Israel sends back 30 of 180 pro-Fatah loyalists allowed to flee Gaza battles

The group of 180 was allowed to cross Israel to Ramallah through the Nahal Oz crossing Sunday, Aug. 3, at the request of the Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas. They included a large group of men admitted to Israeli hospitals with injuries sustained in intense daylong mortar, rocket and machine gun battles between Hamas and the pro-Fatah Hilles clansmen in the Gaza Strip’s Shijaiyeh district. At least nine people were killed and more than 100 injured in the fighting, the biggest Palestinian factional clash since Hamas seized control of Gaza a year ago. Among them was the Hilles leader Ahmed Hilles.
The decision to send back some 30 to the embattled territory was reportedly taken by Abbas who feared they would start trouble on the West Bank. Although Egypt guaranteed their safety, Hamas arrested the returnees when they reached their homes.
Israel forces are on high alert on the Gazan border.
In Nablus, Fatah gunmen seized senior Hamas operative Muhammad Ghazal and threatened to execute him unless Hamas stopped its week-long crackdown on their followers in Gaza and released scores of Fatah loyalists, who were detained after six Hamas operatives and a five-year old girl were killed in a bombing attributed to the Fatah’s Abu Rish Brigades militia.
Three mortar bombs landed on the Israeli side of the border causing no harm.
This is the biggest factional clash since Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in June 2007.
Hamas is bent on purging Fatah and its allies in the first known systematic attempt in Palestinian areas to crush a complete militia.
No attempt to stem the violence has been made – either by an outside Arab element or the Israeli military, even though security sources expect Hamas to turn next on its rivals on the West Bank after completing the purge of Gaza.
Another kind of eruption is presaged by the first open demonstrations by thousands of extremist Islamic Hizb-ar Tahrir in Gaza and the West Bank town of Jenin Thursday, July 31.
This Jerusalem-based Palestinian movement, which seeks to restore the caliphate worldwide and is considered more radical than al Qaeda, has recently begun taking a hand in Palestinian terrorist activity in Israel’s capital.
In Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, five Palestinians died and 18 were wounded trapped in a smuggling tunnel that runs under the Gaza-Egyptian border.

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