Despite having formed a unity agreement last April torpedoing peace talks, Hamas and Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction seem to be slowly sliding into open warfare in Gaza, as an attempted assassination on a Fatah official on Monday caps off incessant back and forth car bombings.
Mamoon Sweidan, the Fatah official who serves in the Gaza office on foreign relations, told the Palestinian Arab Ma'an News Agency that on Monday two masked gunmen in a Subaru conducted a drive-by shooting, targeting him as he was getting into his car outside the al-Saadi building in Gaza City where he lives.
The official said two of his guards exchanged fire with the would-be assassins, and that both guards were wounded.
The assassination attempt is just the latest in a recent string of attacks that risk pushing Hamas and Fatah back into outright warfare; the two have been enemies since Hamas ousted Fatah by force in 2005, seizing control of Gaza, and the lukewarm unity deal has done little of substance to lessen that enmity.
On Sunday unidentified attackers set the car of Fatah official Abed al-Munim Ramadan Tahrawi on fire in the Nuseirat "refugee camp" before fleeing the scene.
That arson came just hours after the car of a senior Hamas official in the interior ministry of the terrorist organization's government was likewise set on fire in Jabaliyah in northern Gaza earlier on Sunday.
Just over a week ago, the car of Hamas official Sheikh Sami Hams was bombed in Nuseirat.
The spate of back and forth car bombings was in full swing in January as well, with the car of Fatah official Adil Udeid set on fire in front of his Gaza home, and Fatah leader Ahmad Alwan's car blown up in Gaza City.
Just prior to that the car of Administrative and Financial Manager of the Hamas-run military police, Helmi Khalaf, was blown up in Gaza City.
ISIS wild card
While the likelihood is that Hamas and Fatah are slowly returning to all-out war, there is a chance that Islamic State (ISIS) is behind some of the attacks, possibly fanning the flames between the two so as to advance its own position in Gaza, Judea and Samaria.
In the bombing of Sheikh Sami Hams's car over a week ago, it was reported that he had recently delivered a critical sermon against ISIS, feasibly raising their ire and sparking the attack.
ISIS hinted in a publication distributed in Gaza, Judea and Samaria last month that it intends to depose Hamas and the PA.
The publication emphasizes that there's an obligation for jihad holy war in fighting the police and army of "the rule of tyranny and heresy," giving a not-so-subtle call for ISIS followers to attack Hamas and the PA, and further framing such a coup as a religious command.
Israeli security sources estimate hundreds of Hamas terrorists have been steadily switching over to ISIS, viewing Hamas as "too moderate" in comparison.
An ISIS terror cell was recently busted in Hevron, showing its presence in an area controlled by the PA, and last October ISIS showed its power in Gaza by claiming a bombing attack on the local French Cultural Center.