At least five Palestinian residents were wounded Saturday night during
clashes between supporters of the two major Palestinian political
parties, Fateh and Hamas, in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah.
The clashes occurred after thousands of people took to the streets,
voicing their reactions to the call by Palestinian President Mahmoud
Abbas, of the Fateh party, for early elections.
According to local medical sources, five residents received treatment for wounds they sustained Saturday night.
Approximately 10,000 residents held a demonstration in the center of the city of Rafah, pledging support for the President and his call for early elections, eyewitnesses told the IMEMC.
In the nearby city of Khan Younis, supporters of both Hamas and Fateh demonstrated in the streets – with Hamas supporters objecting, and Fateh supporters in favor of the proposal for early elections. Slight clashes were reported during the demonstrations, eyewitnesses reported.
The protests and clashes followed a speech given earlier Saturday by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the Palestinian people, in which he summed up developments over the past couple of years, including the ongoing Israeli attacks, the Hamas-led government failure as well as the security lapses.
The President called for early presidential and legislative elections, in a bid to end a 9-month old crisis that began after the international community and Israel refused to accept the results of Palestinian legislative elections in January. The international response to the Palestinian election of the Hamas party included an internationally-imposed economic embargo, and Israeli invasions that have resulted in the deaths of 320 Palestinians.
Since March 2006, the international community has been imposing an economic siege on the Palestinian people, unless the Hamas-led government recognizes Israel’s right to exist, accepts past signed peace agreements and renounces violence.
Hamas refused Abbas' proposal, and called on its supporters in Palestinian cities, towns, villages and refugee camps, to take to the streets to voice their rejection of the call for early elections.