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150 Fatah supporters enter Israel after Hamas takes over east Gaza

  • Story Highlights
  • About 150 pro-Fatah Palestinians let into Israel after Hamas crackdown
  • 5 die in collapse of tunnel used to smuggle goods from Egypt to Gaza
  • At least 4 killed, 60 wounded in Hamas battle with pro-Fatah clan in east Gaza City
  • Hamas takeover the latest in week of Palestinian infighting
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GAZA CITY (CNN) -- About 150 pro-Fatah Palestinians seeking refuge from a Hamas crackdown in eastern Gaza City were allowed into Israel on Saturday, an Israel Defense Forces spokesman told CNN.

Hamas security forces inspect a car in Gaza City recently amid Hamas' crackdown on Fatah.

Fatah members are led handcuffed and blindfolded through a Gaza City checkpoint into Israel on Saturday.

They were let in at the request of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas after Hamas took control of a neighborhood in eastern Gaza City on Saturday.

The Palestinians entered through a security checkpoint in Nahal Oz in the Gaza's northern region Saturday afternoon, the spokesman said.

"They were asking to enter the state of Israel after being threatened by Hamas gunmen," the spokesman said.

The spokesman said the Palestinians, some of whom were wounded, were allowed to cross the border after they disarmed. He also said they would be asked about the events leading them to seek refuge in Israel.

Those who suffered injuries were taken to a facility to receive medical treatment.

It was a rare act that could be interpreted as a sign of Israel's support of the Fatah party, which is led by Abbas.

"It was a sort of humane gesture," the IDF spokesman said.

Hamas forces took control of the al-Shojaeya neighborhood in eastern Gaza City late Saturday, ending several hours of deadly fighting.

The Hamas forces were battling a family suspected of harboring Fatah members wanted in last week's Gaza beach bombing.

Hamas police surrounded the clan, and a battle began with rocket-propelled grenades, rockets and rifles, sources said.

The violence in the large neighborhood left four people dead, including two police officers, and wounded at least 60 others. Video Watch a report on the violence »

The IDF confirmed that some of the Palestinians who entered Israel on Saturday were members of the clan.

Hamas Interior Minister Said Salam said in a news conference that bomb-making materials were found. He asked why so many people would have fled to Israel if they weren't guilty.

Hamas forces began raiding houses in the 15-block neighborhood after the fighting died down, arresting at least 12 men Saturday night.

Earlier, the Hilles clan, a family known to support Fatah, refused Hamas police demands to hand over 20 activists suspected in the bomb attack, sources said.

Hamas security forces in Gaza had already detained hundreds of people affiliated with Fatah since five Hamas militants and a child died in the July 25 beach bombing. Fatah sources say about 450 were apprehended.

Among the dead in the beach attack was Amar Musubah, a Hamas military commander, who has been the target of Israeli military assassination attempts.

Fatah denied responsibility for the attack.

Hamas sources said Saturday the group will release 10 Fatah members arrested earlier in Gaza.

In addition, Hamas released Fatah spokesman Ibrahim Abu-Naja.

Hamas also shut down a radio station, accusing it of airing pro-Fatah broadcasts.

The two Palestinian factions have been bitterly divided since Hamas drove Abbas' security forces from Gaza last year.

Gaza tunnel collapse kills 5, hurts 16

Meanwhile, early Saturday, a tunnel used to smuggle goods into Gaza from Egypt collapsed, killing at least five people and injuring 16, Palestinian sources said.

The supply tunnel, which collapsed near Rafah, was one of many dug along the Gaza-Egypt border in the past year, since Israel closed border crossings.


The move followed Hamas' takeover of the territory.

The tunnel operations have grown into a big business. The tunnels are sometimes built too close to each other for safety.

Journalist Talal Abu-Rahmi in Gaza contributed to this report.

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