Hamas forces on Thursday captured the Palestinian Authority police headquarters in Gaza City following a bloody two-hour with the Fatah-dominated forces manning the base.
The victory follows Hamas' conquest of the entire northern sector of the Gaza Strip a day earlier. At least 35 people have been killed in Wednesday's fighting, with more than 70 dead since Gaza descended into full-scale civil war three days ago.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas responded by ordering his elite “presidential guard” to strike back against Hamas. PA police also began arresting every Hamas member they could lay hands on in Judea and Samaria.
But in Gaza, Fatah's irregular and paramilitary forces have been crumbling before the Hamas onslaught, despite being numerically superior. A large number of Fatah gunmen have fled across the Gaza-Egypt border, and senior Gaza-based Fatah officials are reportedly asking Israel to evacuate them by sea.
The situation prompted one Abbas aide to declare that “Gaza is lost,” reported Ha'aretz.
Hamas officials warned the United Nations against heeding calls to insert a multi-national peacekeeping force into Gaza, saying they would view such a force as an occupying power and respond accordingly.