More Deaths in Hamas-Fatah Fighting

A state of emergency has been declared in Gaza, as fighting between Hamas and Fatah gunmen continues to claim victims. The latest victim: a Hamas military official killed by a bomb in his home.

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Hillel Fendel, | updated: 11:03

Officials have instructed medical aid workers to wear protective vests, in light of the feared escalation in fighting.

The latest killing, around 11:00 this morning (Monday), was originally reported to be the result of a bomb placed by Fatah men in a Hamas official's home. Later reports, however, stated the bomb might have been one the victim himself was working on.

Among the dead in last night's fighting were the brother and 20-year-old pregnant wife of a Hamas terrorist; the targeted Hamas man is himself listed in very critical condition. The incident occurred in Khan Yunis, adjacent to what used to be N'vei Dekalim in southern Gush Katif.

Elsewhere, at a mourners' tent for a Fatah police officer in Gaza City, shots rang out and killed at least two mourners. The victims, like the officer, were Fatah men who were killed by Hamas gunmen.

In a third reported incident, a Hamas operative was killed as he was shot while driving in Gaza City.

Later in the day, militants took over and damaged a Fatah TV station. A Hamas spokesman denied that his organization was involved.

Tensions were expected to abate yesterday, following the beginning of the payment of salaries to the more than 150,000 Palestinian Authority employees for the first time in three months. The salaries are being funded by interest-free loans granted the PA by local banks. However, the payments did not go smoothly today, and dozens of angry Arabs who were not paid rioted inside at least two bank offices, leading to their closure.

Agitation may also increase as the leaders of Fatah and Hamas find themselves unable to reach an agreement on the issues of dispute between them.

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) says that if Hamas does not accept, by tonight, the paper known as the Prisoners' Document, he will call a referendum tomorrow. Hamas leader Ismail Haniye, however, who serves as prime minister in the Palestinian Authority, says that the people already said their piece in the January elections. He refuses to either recognize the Prisoner's Document or to agree to a referendum.

The document in question recognizes Israel's pre-1967 borders, calls for an Arab state in all of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and formulates guidelines for understandings between Hamas and Fatah. Hamas objects to the clauses that call for adopting international resolutions to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and considering the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the PA's Arabs.

Yesterday (Sunday), Abbas refused to talk by phone with Haniye, and sent two representatives to speak with him instead. Haniye said he had no time to talk with them. Another attempt at a meeting between Haniye and Abbas' representatives will be made today.

Three Arabs were injured yesterday in southern Gaza when a political argument deteriorated into a shootout between Fatah and Hamas gunmen.