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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gunmen Create Chaos In Gaza Confrontations

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip -- Palestinian gunmen from the ousted Fatah Party stormed government buildings, briefly took over a power plant and blocked a vital road in the Gaza Strip on Monday, injecting more chaos into the volatile area as Hamas militants readied to take power.

Nine people were wounded in five separate firefights with Palestinian police. The violence was a foretaste of what might happen if Hamas tried to impose its will on Fatah gunmen.

Also Monday, Hamas accused the United States of putting pressure on rival Palestinian groups to shun a Hamas-led government, leaving the Islamic group to govern alone. Hamas' failure to attract any partners and its move to appoint Hamas loyalists to top ministerial posts could bolster U.S. and Israeli efforts to isolate the new government.

Bad blood runs deep between Hamas and Fatah, and many Fatah activists -- including nearly 60,000 members of the security forces -- fear for their government jobs once the militants take power. The handover drew nearer on Sunday, when Hamas, which won January parliamentary elections, presented its new Cabinet to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas for approval.

Abbas is not expected to submit the list to parliament for approval before Israel's March 28 elections.

The bloodiest of the five confrontations Monday took place at Gaza's government compound. Three dozen gunmen demanding jobs charged toward the complex, firing in the air. Some burst into the Finance Ministry, while others began firing at random, wounding a doorman outside the adjacent Foreign Ministry before Palestinian police pulled up in jeeps and began exchanging fire with the attackers. Two stray bullets hit a security guard in the legs.

Police eventually stormed the ministry, arresting three gunmen from the Fatah-affiliated Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. In total, two gunmen and two security officials were wounded in the firefight.

Hamas' leader-in-exile, Khaled Meshaal, in Yemen as part of a tour to gain political and financial support, said Monday that the "United States placed pressure on ... Palestinian factions to not participate in the government so that the government will be purely Hamas, and Israel can justify carrying out its plan to attack the Palestinian people,"

The militant Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine became the last Palestinian faction on Sunday to turn down Hamas' offer to form a coalition government.

Israel and the United States have called on other nations to boycott Hamas, which crushed Abbas' long-dominant Fatah faction in January parliamentary polls, until it disarms and recognizes the Jewish state and interim peace deals.

 The EU handed the United Nations a check Monday for $78 million in urgent aid for Palestinians, but warned repeatedly that future aid was at risk unless the newly formed Hamas government commited to peace with Israel.