GAZA CITY -- Hamas militiamen detained 32 Fatah supporters across Gaza, half of them after breaking up a bachelor's party and beating guests with clubs and chairs, Fatah officials and witnesses said yesterday. Ten people were hurt.
Fatah-affiliated Palestine TV yesterday broadcast video of the arrests and later of the interrogation of a prisoner who Hamas asserted had been tortured to death by rival security forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas.
The prisoner, Moayad Bani Odeh, seemed to have suffered no visible injuries, though he was only shown from the waist up. He said he had not been mistreated, but it was unclear whether he was speaking under duress.
After taking control of Gaza by force in June, Hamas had promised amnesty to Fatah loyalists and it was not immediately clear whether the arrests late Friday and early yesterday signaled the start of a crackdown on Fatah or were isolated events.
The broadcasts were the latest in increasingly ferocious attempts by Hamas and Abbas's Fatah movement to undermine each other's credibility. Hamas seized Gaza by force in June, defeating Abbas's forces.
In the northern town of Beit Hanoun, 15 Fatah supporters were arrested, Fatah said, after Hamas security men broke up a bachelor's party for a Fatah loyalist on Friday.
News footage showed a small outdoor stage, decorated with Palestinian flags and loudspeakers, blaring Fatah songs in praise of moderate Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and his predecessor, the late Yasser Arafat. Dozens of young men were in the area.
At one point, four jeeps carrying Hamas security forces drove toward the stage at high speed. The Hamas gunmen jumped off and marched toward the guests, firing in the air.
Some hurled chairs and others wielded clubs, as most of the guests ran away. Several minutes later, one man is seen lying on the ground, apparently unconscious, as other guests tried to carry him away.
The Executive Force, the Hamas militia policing Gaza, said it stopped the celebration because guests shot in the air, disturbing the peace, and confirmed four arrests. Fatah activists denied anyone had fired in the air.
The Executive Force also said that Fatah members had fired toward a Hamas police building.
"We emphasize that we didn't arrest anyone for his political affiliation," the Executive Force said in a statement. "The four were arrested for committing crimes."
After the episode, about 150 women and youngsters marched to the headquarters of the Hamas police in Beit Hanoun. The protesters and security men yelled at one another, pushing and shoving.
Medics said that 10 people were hurt in the confrontations.
In a separate incident in southern Gaza, 12 Fatah supporters were arrested after Friday prayers, Fatah activists said.