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Hamas police clash with Fatah supporters in Gaza during Fatah celebrations

By Xinhua

Ramallah : At least two Palestinians were killed and 22 others wounded during clashes between supporters of President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement and Hamas police in Gaza Strip on Monday which marked the 43rd anniversary of Fatah’s establishment.

Palestinian medics at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis city in southern Gaza said that two Hamas policemen were shot dead by unknown militants. Hamas police accused Fatah militants for the killing.

Seven people sustained shot wounds and 15 others were beaten upby Hamas police forces during the riot in the city of Khan Younis, according to the medics.

Witnesses said that hundreds of Palestinian supporters took to the streets on Monday night, chanting slogans and waving the yellow flags of their movement.

The celebration turned violent after Hamas police officers opened fire and beat up dozens of Fatah supporters, they added.

Hamas security forces tried to prevent Fatah in Gaza from celebrating its 43rd anniversary in a bid to retaliate Fatah’s ban of Hamas supporters from commemorating its founding in the West Bank two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, witnesses said that Fatah supporters celebrated the 43rd anniversary with fireworks in Gaza City, where sounds of fireworks explosions could be heard and its flashes could be seen in the sky.

Also on Monday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on Islamic Hamas movement to halt its control of the coastal Gaza Strip and resume dialogue to end the ongoing internal Palestinian crisis.

Abbas made the appeal in a televised speech on the occasion to mark the 43rd anniversary of Fatah establishment. He also presented an initiative of reconciliation with Hamas.

“I call those in Hamas movement who led the illegal military coup against the legitimate Palestinian leadership in Gaza to open a new page and a new era based on calm dialogue,” said Abbas.

Abbas slammed Hamas and its security forces for forcibly preventing Fatah supporters in the Gaza Strip to celebrate the 43rd anniversary of Fatah founding.

“I would say that any coup or military rebellion all over the world has ended whatever time it take, therefore I call on the leaders of the coup: let’s start with dialogue,” said Abbas.

Hamas, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Europe and the United States, ousted Abbas’ security forces and bloodily took control of the Gaza Strip in mid June.

“As a president who was elected by the Palestinian people, I have several choices if Hamas movement doesn’t want to end its coup in Gaza. Why don’t we go for early presidential and legislative elections?” said Abbas.

Right after Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip in June, Abbas had not only fired the Hamas-led coalition government, but also severed all contacts with Hamas. As a result, the national dialogue between rival Hamas and Fatah has since collapsed.

Abbas conditioned that any resumption of dialogue with Hamas has to be preceded by Hamas regret over its takeover of Gaza, and should bring the situation back to what it was before mid June. Hamas refuses Abbas’ conditions.