Protest in Gaza
Protest in GazaReuters

A senior official from the Fatah movement was badly beaten up in Gaza on Monday, with the group accusing the strip's Hamas rulers of responsibility, AFP reported.

Hamas denied the claim and pledged to investigate the attack, which comes amid days of violent crackdown by its security forces on protests in Gaza.

Atef Abu Seif, spokesman for Fatah in Gaza and a member of its central committee, was beaten by a group of men near his home in the enclave, the official Palestinian Authority (PA) news agency Wafa said.

Pictures posted on Wafa showed Abu Seif with a bandaged head and leg, with his clothes speckled with blood.

Mahmoud Aloul, deputy chairman of Fatah, accused Hamas of carrying out an assassination attempt.

Iyad al-Bozum, spokesman for the Hamas-run “interior ministry” in Gaza, condemned the incident, telling AFP "the police are investigating the attack".

In recent days, there have been demonstrations in Gaza against rising prices.

Hamas’ security forces have responded by violently breaking up gatherings, with dozens of journalists, rights workers and others arrested.

Hamas has been ruling Gaza since 2007, when it overtook the coastal enclave from Fatah, which is headed by PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, in a bloody coup.

Since then, the two groups have been embroiled in a bitter rivalry. The two organizations signed a reconciliation deal in October of 2017, under which the PA was to have resumed full control of Gaza by December of that year.

That deadline, however, was initially put back by 10 days, had later reportedly hit “obstacles”, and has never been implemented.

In January, Fatah claimed that Hamas had arrested more than 500 Fatah members in Gaza, ahead of a rally marking the anniversary of the movement's founding. Hamas denied the accusation.

PA security forces have also cracked down on Hamas in PA-assigned areas of Judea and Samaria. In late December, PA security forces broke up a Hamas protest in Hevron and used batons against both male and female demonstrators.