Palestinian violence spreads

Hamas and Fatah agree to Saudi offer for talks at Mecca's Grand Mosque.

    Armed Fatah members launched a spate of kidnappings in the West Bank city of Nablus [AFP]

    Both Hamas and Fatah, however, have accepted an invitation from King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia for peace talks to be held at Mecca's Grand Mosque.
     
    Saudi invitation
     
    The Saudi Press Agency quoted Abdullah as saying: "I invite them all ... to discuss disputes in a neutral [environment] without intervention from any other side."
     
    Residents said some families in Gaza were leaving their homes near the worst of the fighting.
     
    Your Views

    Islam and all other religions ... are for the benefit of mankind. They are not designed to become systems of governments. This is the real paradox facing us as Muslims. We love Islam and we think it can provide the solution, but sadly it doesn't. We need an earthly solution.
     

    themorningchill, Jerusalem, Palestine

     

    Send us your views

    Others were keeping children inside and staying away from windows, fearing sniper fire.
     
    Nour Odeh, Al Jazeera's Gaza correspondent, said: "At the moment, the situation is very tense on the streets of Gaza and some streets have been completely closed off to civilians."
     
    The violence has derailed coalition talks between the two factions and brought much of Gaza to a standstill.
     
    Disturbances also spread to the West Bank city of Nablus, where Fatah fighters kidnapped 11 Hamas members, security sources said.
     
    Fatah supporters later set ablaze the Nablus offices of the Hamas-controlled education ministry and kidnapped five employees, Ahmed Doleh, the director of the ministry, said.
     
    Armed men from Fatah-affiliated al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades seized a local Hamas leader in front of local news crews in Nablus.
     
    As the clashes intensified, Ismael Haniya, prime minister of the Hamas government, issued a plea urging an end to the conflict.
     
    National unity
     
    "We call on all the Palestinian people to protect national unity, to make the language of dialogue and reason prevail, to withdraw weapons from the streets, and put an end to the tensions," Haniya said.
     
    Talking to the fighters


    Laila El-Haddad interviews members of armed groups allied to Hamas and to Fatah to discover why they do what they do - read An eye for an eye in Gaza

    An explosion early on Sunday morning rocked the Gaza City home of a bodyguard of Mohammed Dahlan, a powerful Fatah commander. No casualties were reported.
     
    Anti-tank rockets and mortar shells were also fired at Fatah's police headquarters.
     
    Throughout Gaza, warring factions set up road blocks and continued to trade machine-gun fire.
     
    The rival groups blame each other for provoking the violence.
     
    Plea to Abbas
     
    Hamas has called for Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president en route to the African Union summit in Ethiopia, to return home immediately to help put an end to the bloodshed.
     
    Your Views

    "How can dialogue go on when there is a bomb underneath the table?"
     

    Tawfiq Abu Khoussa,
    Fatah spokesman

    Send us your views

    The Arab League condemned the fighting as "irrational and unacceptable" and Alvaro de Soto, the UN special co-ordinator for the Middle East peace process, called on all parties "to cease clashes".
     
    Violence erupted after Abbas called last month for early presidential and parliamentary elections after inconclusive talks with Hamas on forming a unity government.
     
    Hamas parliamentarians said on Sunday Abbas's calls for early elections "amount to a coup against the results of democracy".
     
    They said in a statement: "National dialogue cannot continue with leaders of the coup or those who support them."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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