Even during the most intense Israeli offensives against the Islamist regime in Gaza, Hamas continued to hunt down, torture and kill members of its rival for political control, Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah organization. Hamas

"Hamas should understand our message," he warned.

claimed it was only targeting traitors to the cause.

Hamas, the Islamist movement backed by Iran in the Palestinian Authority, spent part of its resources during the course of Israel's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza on attacking members of Fatah and other PA residents. On Monday, according to the PA-based Ma'an news agency, a Fatah spokesman announced that the movement had evidence of 16 murders of Fatah members, over 80 crippling shootings and hundreds of home imprisonments carried out by Hamas.

In its announcement, Fatah called on "Hamas and its members" to "heal the wounds and reinforce unity" during the current ceasefire with Israel. The Fatah spokesman added that Abbas's PA faction will "not allow" further attacks on its people. "Hamas should understand our message," he warned, adding that any more internecine violence against Fatah members would prevent any future dialogue between Hamas and Fatah.

During the Gaza fighting, Hamas claimed it was only arresting collaborators, traitors and criminals. However, Fatah members received orders from the Hamas regime to remain in their homes and under curfew shortly after the Israeli offensive got underway in earnest.

In a January 6, 2009, broadcast on Fatah-controlled PA TV, translated by Palestinian Media Watch, a well-known Arab singer said Hamas "gangs of the anarchic security forces" killed a relative of his. "The father was killed right in front of his children, because he didn't stay at home after they placed him under house arrest," the singer said, "he and everyone who belongs to Fatah."

The PA newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, also affiliated with Fatah, reported on January 9 on "liquidations of Fatah members in the Gaza Strip by members of Hamas." The newspaper quoted a Gaza resident who claimed that Hamas gunmen killed her father and injured nine other family members, "among them were three small children and two young people in critical condition...."

A Fatah leader in Gaza at the time said that the multiple murders and attacks on Fatah members was not part of an organized campaign by Hamas, but he also warned Hamas over the "isolated incidents" of murder.