Rival Palestinian factions exchange fire in Gaza

 

Rival Palestinian gunmen from the Hamas and Fatah factions exchanged fire today in the Gaza Strip, wounding at least one person, witnesses and emergency workers said.

It was the latest clash of a mounting power struggle between Hamas, an Islamic militant group that won an election last January, and the once-dominant Fatah.

Witnesses said gunmen on both sides opened fire as Hamas militants surrounded the home of a gunman from the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya.

Al-Aqsa is an armed wing of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement.

At least 15 Palestinians were killed in similar fighting that erupted earlier this month.

The clashes ensued as Israel pursued a raid in northern Gaza in a bid to halt rocket fire at the Jewish state and secure the release of a soldier captured in a June 25 cross-border raid.

Israeli troops killed eight Gaza gunmen on Saturday, seven of them from Hamas, raising to 21 the number Israel has killed in the last four days and 250 since late June.