Days before President Bush’s visit to the Middle East, violence between Hamas and Fatah spiked in the Gaza Strip today, the AP reports. Eight people have been killed in the violence over the past 24 hours, the first deaths in Palestinian infighting in 2 months. The renewed clashes prompted Hamas, which controls Gaza, to arrest Fatah activists and bar public gatherings.
"We are not going to show mercy for these crimes," said a Hamas official in Gaza. The crackdown came despite a reconciliatory speech by Mahmoud Abbas. The Fatah leader last week called for early elections and for Hamas to cede Gaza. Continued violence would dash hopes that Bush’s visit could prod Israel and Palestinians toward renewed peace talks.