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27 Jan, 2007 13:00

Tensions grow higher in Gaza

Tensions grow higher in Gaza

Friday saw the highest death toll in internal Palestinian fighting since Hamas rose to power a year ago, prompting talks aimed at forming a National Unity government to be cancelled.

Security forces and police are on high alert across the territory of Gaza. Thursday's car bomb attack on a Hamas official sparked a chain reaction of revenge killings.

In the Jabalya refugee camp in the Northern Gaza strip, Hamas gunmen stormed the house of a senior Fatah militant leading to the kidnapping of 24 Hamas supporters. Fatah gunmen allegedly stormed a Mosque to execute a senior Hamas activist. Later two men have been shot dead near the Islamic University, and Hamas gunmen have fired mortars on a Fatah security compound.

Leaders from both sides say they're calling their men in off the streets, and both accuse the other of breaking the truce.

One year after coming to power, Hamas remains defiant in its refusal to recognise the state of Israel, offering instead a ten year truce, but Israel is not interested. In response to this position the U.S. called for a boycott leaving the Palestinian group struggling to pay salaries to over 165,000 Palestinian civil servants.

Hopes of forming a National Unity Government moderate enough to end the sanctions seem to be fading. The rising death toll means the latest round of talks between Hamas and Fatah has been called off, and President Abbas has put a three week deadline on finding an agreement, before he enforces elections, which Hamas says it would see as a coup.