Three men from Fatah and two from Hamas were killed in all on Sunday, including the cleric of a mosque and a member of the elite Force 17 of Mahmoud Abbas, the president, hospital officials said.
"Hamas is trying to draw us [Israel] into their civil war"
Zafon, Beersheva, Israel
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The pro-Hamas Muslim cleric was pulled from his home and shot several times in the street after the member of the Presidential Guard loyal to rival Fatah was shot and thrown to his death from a high building in Gaza City, officials said.
Mohammed Sweirki, 25, was kidnapped earlier by Hamas members near the 15-storey apartment building.
His death set off skirmishes in several parts of Gaza City.
Witnesses said masked fighters from both Islamist Hamas and secular Fatah streamed onto the streets, setting up roadblocks and barriers to stop cars and check identification papers and pulling rival supporters from vehicles and houses.
Main roads were paralysed by the fighting, and shops and businesses closed early.
The latest round of fighting, the worst since an Egyptian-brokered truce was declared in mid-May, began on Saturday night in the town of Rafah, where hundreds of rival fighters took up positions on street corners and rooftops.
Hamas and Fatah shelled each other with rocket-propelled grenades and machineguns, according to witnesses who took shelter indoors as the rivals fought block by block in Rafah.
The officials said another Hamas man died of wounds from a shooting last week, while a total of 53 people were wounded in Sunday's fighting.
Fighting was also reported in a central Gaza refugee camp, where Hamas and Fatah accused each other of abducting at least one member of each group.
|Palestinian fighters used a jeep disguised as a|
press vehicle to raid Israel's Kissufim crossing
The ensuing gun battle wounded four more people, hospital officials said.
Against this backdrop of factional fighting, Israeli aircraft bombed a building used by the Islamic Jihad in pre-dawn attacks, causing two injuries, residents said.
Sunday's air strike came after the organisation claimed responsibility for the previous day's cross-border raid into Israel, according to Palestinian security officials.
In that incident, at least four Palestinian fighters entered Israel's Kissufim area in a
jeep disguised to look like a press vehicle and exchanged fire with Israeli soldiers, leaving one Palestinian dead.
Islamic Jihad said the raid was carried out by two of its al-Quds fighters and two more from Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, an armed group loosely linked to Fatah.
Journalists denounced the tactic. The Palestinian journalists' union said fighters' use of media markings could turn journalists who use armoured vehicles in the Gaza Strip into targets for Israeli attacks.