Three Hamas policemen and a member of a pro-Fatah clan were killed on Saturday in the Gaza Strip, medics said, in internecine violence that could complicate Arab-backed efforts to reconcile the rival Palestinian factions.
Islam Shahwan, a Hamas spokesman, said three other officers and 10 civilians were wounded by gunfire and mortars in the Shejaia suburb of Gaza City, fired by members of the Helles clan, affiliated with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction.
Shahwan said the Islamist group's forces were conducting a campaign to arrest members of the clan who Hamas believes were behind a series of bombings in the territory last week, including one that killed five Hamas members and a girl.
He said Hamas security men had stormed several high-rise buildings, arrested rooftop snipers, gunmen and wounded fighters. Shahwan said the area was reinforced by sandbags and that fighters were using machine-gun fire against police.
"We are determined to continue the raid until we arrest all those involved," Shahwan said.
The Helles clan has denied the accusations.
"Our police forces have managed to control some of the houses in the town and a number of those who were involved in the fighting were arrested," Shahwan said.
"Whoever perpetrated these explosions was a collaborator with the Israeli intelligence forces," the new brigades said in a press statement.
PA security releases 7 Hamas members; more to follow
Palestinian Authority (PA) forces released seven Hamas affiliates in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, including Dr Mohammd Ghazal , member of the Hamas political leadership after a two day detention, on Friday afternoon.
The security forces confirmed that this is the first group to be released in response to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' order on Thursday that all political prisoners arrested over the last week be released. A senior commander of the PA forces told Ma'an that others will be in the following hours.
Friday evening three more prisoners were indeed released.
Hamas forces arrested Fatah representatives
Hamas security forces arrested Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's top Fatah representatives in the Gaza Strip on Friday, ratcheting up tensions between the rival factions.
Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said the arrests in the Gaza Strip were meant to put pressure on Abbas's security forces to release Hamas activists detained in the occupied West Bank.
Tensions between the factions spiked a week ago after a series of bombings in the Gaza Strip, one of which killed five Hamas members and a girl. Hamas blamed Fatah for the blasts, a charge Fatah denied.