At least seven Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip. The violence occurs as Palestinians begin Eid al-Fitr celebrations that mark the end of month-long Ramadan observances.
At least five members of one family were killed in a clash with Israeli troops in the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip. Among the dead was Ata Shimbari, a Palestinian militant responsible for many rocket attacks launched against Israel from Gaza.
About 20 others were wounded in the incident, which reportedly began because the Palestinians thought they were being attacked by a rival faction - a sign of the tensions in Gaza, where there have been repeated clashes between forces loyal to the governing Hamas movement, and the Fatah faction of President Mahmoud Abbas.
The growing violence and an economic crisis caused by a cutoff of funds to the Palestinian Authority because of the Hamas refusal to recognize Israel has left Palestinians with little to celebrate on the occasion of this year's Eid al-Fitr holiday, when Muslims mark the end of Ramadan fasting.
"This Eid looks like the worst ever experienced by the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, as a result of no wages or salaries," said Mohammed Dawwas is a veteran journalist in the Gaza Strip. "There were also over the last two days demonstrations by the security forces, who burned tires and closed all the streets in the Gaza Strip, protesting no salaries and no wages for eight months."
Palestinians recently failed to agree on a unity government, and, once Eid festivities conclude Wednesday, there is speculation that President Abbas could move to dismiss the Hamas government and call new elections, raising the stakes in the political dispute between Hamas and Fatah.
Palestinians are also concerned that Israel could escalate its four-month offensive in Gaza, which began in late June after Palestinian militants abducted an Israeli soldier from a Gaza border post.