Gaza bombings heighten tension between Fatah and Hamas

Explosions in Gaza City cause no injuries but shake Palestinian politics

Tension increased Friday between Palestinian political adversaries Fatah and Hamas, which have formed a unity government, after a series of explosions in the Gaza Strip that targeted the homes of key Fatah members.

The blasts caused no injuries but shook Palestinian politics, which is still recovering from the seven-year rift between the two movements, which formally reconciled in April.

The explosions occurred simultaneously about 3 a.m., damaging the houses and cars of 10 high-ranking Fatah figures, including the governor of Gaza and a member of the parliament, according to Palestinian reports.

“After they blew up the entrance to my house, they left a paper at the door ordering me not to leave the house until Nov. 15,” said Fatah member Abu Jouda Nahal. The leaflet, left at other sites as well, was signed by a group purporting to be affiliated with Islamic State.

Another explosion targeted the main stage set up in Gaza for a rally marking the 10th anniversary of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s death. This would have been the first such tribute in Gaza since the Hamas takeover in 2007.

Several Fatah members said the explosions were meant to sabotage the Arafat memorial scheduled for Tuesday. Some pointed to Hamas, whose leaders hastened to condemn the attacks and demand an immediate investigation. All factions condemned the attack and no one claimed responsibility.

Despite a reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas and a shared government, Palestinian unity is still faltering and divisions remain deep in Gaza, where residents and Hamas leaders await promised aid.

After the explosions, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and other officials called off plans to travel to Gaza on Saturday.

The Palestinian government had planned to hold its weekly Cabinet meeting in Gaza next week to discuss matters including the reconstruction of Gaza and financial issues straining the coastal strip, including the long-delayed salaries for civil servants of the former Hamas-run government.

Last month, Fatah officials traveled from the West Bank to Gaza for the first time since 2007 for a Cabinet meeting — hailed as historic — that was intended to solidify Palestinian unity.

Special correspondents Abu Alouf and Sobelman reported from Gaza City and Jerusalem.

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