The Hamas and Fatah factions have been moving (albeit slowly) forward in Egypt-sponsored reconciliation talks. Those talks are likely to have been seriously harmed today, however, when members of the Fatah-run police attacked a Hamas hideout in Qalqiliya, a West Bank city with heavy Hamas support.
The raid sparked a gunbattle which left six dead, including two Hamas members and a civilian. Afterwards, Hamas loyalists reportedly attacked police across the town, though without any reports of casualties. Tensions in the town and even the area have risen palpably.
Witnesses said the Fatah members used the owner of the building as a human shield, and later prevented an ambulance from reaching the bodies of the Hamas men shot in the gunbattle.
The attack has also sparked massive protests in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, where thousands of supporters took to the streets to denounce the raid, and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas. One top Hamas official has told members of the faction’s military wing to defend themselves against security forces in the West Bank.