GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – A gun battle erupted early Friday between the new Hamas security force and rival Fatah forces in Gaza City, police officials said. Two police officers were wounded.
An Associated Press reporter in Gaza City heard the gunfire break out. The Palestinian police, who are mostly Fatah loyalists, were instructed by radio to respond with force to any attacks by Hamas forces.
The gun battle erupted just after midnight near the Palestinian parliament building, witnesses said. The two policemen were shot in the legs and were not in serious condition, hospital officials said.
The AP reporter said Hamas forces closed off the streets leading to police headquarters, the stronghold of the Fatah loyalists, and sporadic exchanges of fire could be heard every few minutes, half an hour after the clash began. Police were running to their posts.
The violence followed a day of face-offs between the two sides. The Hamas-led government fielded its new security force in defiance of a ban by moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is also the leader of Fatah.