Hamas arrests Fatah supporters in aftermath of rally
Hamas security forces rounded up 400 Fatah supporters in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday following a rally Monday that marked the third anniversary of Yasser Arafat's death, say Fatah officials.
Seven people were killed and roughly 80 wounded as the rival factions fired at each otherduringtherally on Monday that drew about 250,000 Fatah supporters.
Each side blames the other for starting the firefight in what is being called the bloodiest day of intra-Palestinian conflict since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in June.
The detainees included dozens of the rally's organizers, Fatah spokesman Hazem Abu Shanab said. Hamas officials did not immediately comment.
Gaza City was quiet and tense Tuesday morning, with few Hamas policemen on the streets. Schools were closed and most of the stores in downtown Gaza were shuttered.
In the West Bank, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared three days of mourning, ordering Palestinian flags to fly at half-mast and condemning the Hamas crackdown as a "heinous crime."
Waving Palestinian flags and Fatah banners, thousands of Abbas supporters held rallies Tuesday in cities across the West Bank, where Abbas installed a pro-Western government after the Hamas takeover of Gaza.
The renewed fighting comes as Abbas prepares for new peace talks with Israel, starting with a U.S.-hosted Mideast conference in Maryland later this month. Talks,already facing obstacles such as the long-disputed status of Jerusalem, are further complicated by Hamas claims that Abbas does not have a mandate to negotiate.
With files from the Associated Press