Hamas officer killed in internal Gaza clashes

Gaza City, Aug 2 (DPA) Gunmen of the small, radical Islamic Jihad faction have shot dead a Hamas police officer in clashes in eastern Gaza City, witnesses said.

The clashes erupted Wednesday night as Hamas security forces attempted to arrest a gunman for firing in the air during a wedding in the area, a practice outlawed by Hamas since it seized sole control of the Gaza Strip in mid-June, according to Islam Shahwan, the spokesman of Hamas’ Executive Force.

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The militant’s family, however, along with Islamic Jihad gunmen, opened fire at the Executive Force members as they arrived to arrest him, he said.

Following the death, the Executive Force sent reinforcements to the area and surrounded the house. Shahwan says his troops insisted on detaining the suspect.

Paramedics said seven people were wounded in the subsequent violence, four of them Islamic Jihad militants and three Executive Force personnel.

Shahwan has condemned the Islamic Jihad for “firing at the policemen who were carrying out their job to implement the law.”

Initial reports had said the clashes erupted after Hamas officers tried to prevent Islamic Jihad gummen from firing rockets into Israel.