The violence on Friday was sparked by the death of a Palestinian resistance fighter who died in a car-bomb explosion earlier in the day.

Rival Palestinian factions clashed at the funeral of Abu Youssef al-Quqa, a commander in the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), an umbrella group of fighters in Gaza often responsible for rocket attacks against Israel.

Hospital officials in Gaza said that three people were killed and at least 20 wounded outside a mosque at the start of Friday prayers.

"We have a big mess here," said Dr Bakr Abu-Safira, an emergency room physician. Hospital officials said two of the dead were bystanders and one of the injured was a boy, whose head wounds were not life-threatening.

Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian prime minister of the Hamas-led government, appealed for calm and said he had asked his interior minister, Saeed Seyam, to investigate the attack.

Al Jazeera's correspondent in Gaza, Hiba Akila, reported that Israeli artillery shelled uninhabited arable lands in the northeastern part of the Gaza Strip on Friday.

Collaboration alleged

Fighters loyal to al-Quqa accused Palestinian security forces of collaborating with Israel in the killing, triggering a series of gunfights in Gaza after the explosion.

Israel denied any involvement in the blast. An Israeli army spokeswoman said: "It wasn't us."

The PRC initially blamed Israel, but later accused Palestinian security forces.

Al-Quqa's killing has touched off
a fresh round of violence in Gaza

Abu Abir, a PRC spokesman, said that armed men loyal to Mohammed Dahlan, the former Preventative Security Service chief in Gaza and a Fatah member in the new Palestinian parliament, were caught spying on al-Quqa's home on Thursday.

Abu Abir promised "an open war" on Dahlan and several other security commanders.

Palestinian intelligence officials said al-Quka was a known Hamas supporter, and appeared to have been killed for his loyalties. The officials, fearing for their safety, spoke on condition of anonymity.

Dahlan, who was travelling in the UAE, dismissed the PRC's allegations as "baseless ugly accusations".

When Abu Abir called a news conference to discuss the killing, rival armed men burst on the scene and shots were fired. Hospital officials said two boys, aged 15 and 13, were wounded, one seriously.

Funeral violence

Armed men gathered outside the hospital where al-Quqa's body was taken, crying, screaming and firing into the air. Accompanying the body, hundreds of armed men marched through Gaza City.

After the funeral, dozens of Fatah-linked armed men blocked the roads leading to Samir Masharawi, another figure close to Dahlan. A spokesman for the armed men pledged to take "all necessary measures against Abu Abir. He must be punished".

Israeli warplanes struck Gaza
after Thursday's suicide attack

Mahmoud al-Zahar, the Palestinian foreign minister, said of the Gaza explosion: "It means that the Israeli aggression will not stop. It means our resistance should continue."

The blast came a day after a Palestinian suicide bomber killed four Israelis in the West Bank.

Hamas pledge

The new Hamas government meanwhile held an emergency meeting on Friday night and pledged to end public displays of weapons in the Gaza Strip.

Yousef Rizka, the information minister, said the government pledged "to remove all arms from the street".