By Sarah El Deeb in Gaza City
Published: 12 June 2007
Gunmen exchanged fire at two Gaza hospitals, and cabinet ministers fled a weekly meeting after the government headquarters was hit in crossfire yesterday, in the latest round in an increasingly brutal power struggle between Hamas and Fatah.
Eight Palestinians were killed, including three shot dead in Beit Hanoun Hospital in northern Gaza. At Gaza's largest hospital, Shifa in Gaza City, combatants fired mortars, grenades and assault rifles. The battles came a day after two men were thrown to their deaths from high-rise rooftops, signalling a rapid descent into all-out confrontation.
Appeals for calm by the leaders of the two camps, President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas - whose home came under fire - went unheeded. Repeated attempts to secure a ceasefire also failed.
The deaths brought to 74 the number of Palestinians killed since the latest round of infighting erupted in May. The violence overshadowed attempts to revive Israeli-Palestinian contacts.