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Hamas, Fatah followers clash in Gaza

Jan. 27, 2006 at 12:40 PM

GAZA, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- A day after Hamas served a humiliating defeat to the ruling Fatah movement, followers of the two rival groups clashed in south Gaza Friday.

Palestinian security sources said three people were wounded in a clash that erupted in a mosque near Khan Younes when Hamas followers protested against the sermon of the pro-Fatah imam criticizing the Islamic militant movement.

Leaders from both parties intervened immediately to stop the clash from developing, just as Hamas cancelled planned demonstrations to celebrate its landslide victory in the first general elections it ever contested.

In Tunisia, Palestinian diplomat and member of the Palestine Liberation Organization's Political Department Jumaa Naji described Fatah's defeat a "humiliating and painful blow."

"I believe Fatah has reaped what it sowed and we have now to pay the price of our failure in a good spirit, we also have to think how to recover the leadership and not how to make Hamas fail," Naji said.

He called on Fatah to hold accountable what he dubbed as the "symbols of failure and corruption."

"These people should be barred from appearing on satellite televisions whether to justify their failure or to continue misleading and deceiving Fatah followers and partisans," Naji, a key member of Fatah, said.

He also urged Fatah leaders to examine the reasons behind the group's failure to score well in the elections, "including wrong policies and programs, corruption and aging administration."

Hamas won a majority of 76 seats in the new 132-member parliament compared to 43 seats for Fatah.

The Islamic militant group is expected to form the next government after Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia resigned at the announcement of Fatah's defeat.

Among the candidates who won a seat in the new chamber are nine prisoners, including eight serving sentences in Israeli jails.

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