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Palestinian clashes cast gloom on reconciliation efforts

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A Hamas spokesperson in Damascus has called upon Palestinians to fight against the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority forces as intensely as if they were resisting the Israeli occupation, reports Haaretz, a center-left Israeli newspaper. In Gaza, a top Hamas official made similar remarks, ordering Hamas militants in the West Bank not to surrender to PA forces.

The Hamas call for internecine violence was unusual, and presumably includes the use of suicide bombings, since that is among the methods the group has sanctioned in its terror war on Israel.
Israeli security sources said the deaths of the two Hamas operatives seriously damaged one of the group's most dangerous cells in the West Bank. Israel has pressured the Palestinian forces to crack down on the Hamas cell as a way of keeping the Israel Defense Forces out of Qalqilyah.

Last Thursday, Israeli forces killed a top Hamas militant, Abed al-Majid Dudin, in an exchange of gunfire after surrounding his West Bank home. An Israeli military spokesman said he was responsible for two fatal bus bombings in Israel a decade ago.

Tension has been steadily mounting between Hamas and Fatah. Al Jazeera's Gaza correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin reports that "confidence between Hamas and Fatah is 'really at an all-time low.'"

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