Adding to the chaos, Israeli aircraft carried out two air strikes on Gaza on Wednesday, killing four Hamas fighters in Rafah and another in the north. Two Palestinians were also wounded, residents said.
|Journalists were trapped when their office |
building got caught in the crossfire
The attack came after Hamas fighters earlier fired rockets at the Israeli town of Sderot, injuring three people.
Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister ordered a "severe response" to the rocket fire, according to a statement from his office.
Israel said the air strikes, the deadliest since a November truce in Gaza was declared, was not connected to the factional fighting but targeted a command centre used by Hamas to plan attacks and a rocket crew that had just fired into the Jewish state.
The Executive Force, which has taken a lead in fighting with Fatah, denied the Rafah building was used to plan rocket attacks and said the air strikes proved Israel was taking sides.
Pro-Hamas media have already begun accusing Abbas of lining up with Israel.
Israel agreed to let 450 Fatah troops into Gaza from Egypt on Tuesday.
Shimon Peres, the Israeli vice-premier, told reporters during a visit to Estonia: "We will not intervene in the war itself but if Mr Abbas will request specific help, we will supply [it]."