This is very bad if the Israelis were involved. The Middle East is on the verge of turning into a giant burning cauldron. No one will escape the horror to come. And the beneficiaries are al Qaeda and their likes.
Hamas police officers in Gaza on Saturday rounded up scores of supporters of Fatah, the rival Palestinian movement, and raided its offices after five Hamas militants and a girl were killed in a bomb blast late Friday, local residents said.
The explosion and the Hamas reaction stoked internal tensions in Gaza to one of their highest levels since the Hamas takeover of the Palestinian territory in June 2007.
Hamas, the Islamic militant organization, blamed the mainstream Fatah for the deadly blast that followed two smaller explosions in Gaza on Friday, issuing a statement accusing the Fatah leadership in the West Bank, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, of concealing “a conspiracy to kill and assassinate and terrorize” Hamas security forces.
Fatah denied involvement; a spokesman for Mr. Abbas suggested the killings were a result of a conflict in Hamas and charged Hamas officials with trying to cover up divisions in their own organization.
In several episodes in the past militants had been killed by their own explosives, but local news media said Friday’s explosion, near a crowded Gaza beach, was caused by a bomb placed outside a car used by Hamas militants. Medical officials said that at least 19 Palestinians were wounded.
The two earlier explosions occurred outside a popular Gaza cafe and near the home of a Hamas official. Local news reports said the cafe bomber, who died in the blast, belonged to a shadowy Islamic extremist group that has been taking aim at places of entertainment and Christian centers in Gaza. It was unclear who was responsible for the second bombing.
After a brief but brutal factional war with Fatah last year, Hamas has consolidated its control over Gaza, priding itself on imposing internal order. It also has negotiated a temporary truce with the Israelis, through Egyptian mediators, that has brought almost total quiet to the area in the past few weeks.
But according to news reports, gun battles broke out between the rival Palestinian groups overnight as Fatah sympathizers tried to resist arrest in the wake of the bombings.
Hamas leaders gathered Saturday at a central mosque where the coffins of those killed in the explosion were brought for prayers before burial, and charged the Fatah leadership with collaboration with Israel — a crime punishable by death in the Palestinian territories.