Hamas, Islamic Jihad renew clashes in Rafah, 12 wounded

By Xinhua

Gaza : At least 12 people were wounded when infighting between Hamas and the Islamic Jihad (Holy War) renewed again in southern Gaza town of Rafah on Sunday evening, breaking a short-lived deal of calmness.

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Hamas sources said that the clashes erupted after Hamas police forces arrested 12 members of the Islamic Jihad.

A group of Islamic Jihad gunmen have failed to kidnap a Hamas member and opened fire at a group of Hamas military wing who were not far from the scene of the attempted kidnapping, said the sources.

Witnesses said that armed clashes renewed in Rafah after a day of ceasefire, leading to a number of injuries, adding that the two sides have abducted members from each other.

Mu’awia Hassanien of the Health Ministry’s ambulance service said that 12 people have been wounded in the renewed shootings, four of them were in critical condition.

Earlier on Sunday, Hamas and the Islamic Jahad issued a joint statement saying that the two factions have reached a deal to withdraw gunmen from the streets and free kidnapped members of the two sides after a 51-year-old woman was killed and almost two dozens were hurt during their initial fighting.

The reasons behind the violence are still unknown, but the two groups announced the formation of a committee to “study the reasons and handle them in a way that maintains the depth of the relation between the two movements.”

Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in June and routed forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement.

The Islamic movement formed its own security services to police Gaza after Abbas fired the Hamas-led government and appointed another one ruling from the West Bank.

In a news conference in Gaza, Khader Habib, an Islamic Jihad leader, has denied reports that his movement was part in a plot by Fatah to target Hamas forces in the Gaza Strip.

Media reports had said that the plan was involving Islamic Jihad fighters as a cover for Fatah militias to return power in Gaza.

“We are maintaining the people’s safety and security… we are not interested in any security chaos or violation of law,” Habib said.