Gaza (AsiaNews/Agencies) The death toll from two days of clashes between security forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and agents from the Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry has risen to 11 with more than 150 wounded or injured. Security officers on strike for not receiving salaries in the last six months were out demonstrating today as the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed group tied to the Fatah party, have threatened to kill Hamas leaders.
In a statement released today in Gaza, the Brigades said it held Hamas officialsHamas Politbuto Chief in Damascus Khaled Mashal, Interior Minister Sayid Siam, another high-ranking member of the ministry, Yissef al-Zaharresponsible for deaths in the latest violent clashes and threatened to kill them.
In response Hamas legislator Mushir al-Masri warned that his party would "not show mercy" if any of its leaders were targeted by what he called "the leaders of the internal coup".
Hamas' management of government affairs has so far left many Palestinians dissatisfied, even among its supporters. A survey by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center between September 19 and 22 shows Fatah regaining the support it lost in January just edging out Hamas for top spot. In fact, if an election were held today, Fatah would get 32 per cent of the vote, compared to 30.5 per cent for Hamas. In the January poll, Hamas had won an outright majority with 74 seats out of 132. Fatah had won 45.
The survey also showed that other parties received marginal support: Popular Front, 3.6 per cent; Independent Palestine list (Mustapha Barghouti and the Independents), 3.5 per cent; Third Road list (of former Finance Minister Salam Fayad), 2.3 per cent.
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh remains however the most reliable politician among Palestinians with 18.9 per cent of support compared to 14.5 per cent for President Abbas and 4.5 per cent for Fatah leader Marwan Barghuti who is currently in prison in Israel).
In order to get out of the current political and financial crisis gripping the Palestinian National Authority, 55.9 per cent of Palestinians would like to see a national unity government formed. Failure to do so is blamed on President Abbas (46.3 per cent) and the Hamas government (40.9 per cent).
Although the survey shows a swing back towards the more moderate Fatah party, support for extremist violence is growing in the territories48 per cent supports suicide attacks and 43.1 per cent are in favour of military operations against the Jewish state.
Almost half of the 1200 Palestinians polled (46.6 per cent) were never the less in favour of the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel as a way to solve the overall conflict.