(AP) - On its first day of full rule in Gaza, the Islamic militant Hamas announced Friday that it is granting amnesty to senior Fatah leaders, signaling that it is seeking conciliation with the defeated forces of moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Hamas also said Palestinian security forces, now under its command, would take control of Gaza's crossing with Egypt, which was monitored by European observers until the last decisive battle for Gaza erupted earlier this week.
Gazans awoke to a new reality Friday, fraught with uncertainty and fear that they'll become even poorer and more isolated. Streets were quiet after five days of intense fighting in which the Islamic militants seized the crowded and chaotic territory from their Fatah rivals.
Earlier Friday, Hamas announced it had arrested 10 of the most senior Fatah leaders in the strip, including the commanders of President Mahmoud Abbas' own elite guard unit and the chief of the National Security force.
However, movement spokesman Abu Obdeideh later declared an amnesty for all Fatah leaders. Shortly after the announcement, three Fatah leaders were released.
Still, victorious Hamas supporters vented their rage at Fatah.
Hundreds of people swarmed through the unoccupied house of Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan after his neighborhood fell to Hamas, stripping everything, including windows, doors and flowerpots.
A resident of a Hamas-dominated neighborhood, identifying himself only as Yousef for fear of reprisal by his neighbors, said Gazans would always back the winner, regardless of ideology.
"Today everybody is with Hamas because Hamas won the battle. If Fatah had won the battle they'd be with Fatah. We are a hungry people, we are with whoever gives us a bag of flour and a food coupon," said Yousef, 30. "Me, I'm with God and a bag of flour."
Outside Gaza City's Shifa Hospital, taxi driver Nader Susi, 31, sat on the curb, puffing on a cigarette. "I don't know what's coming," he said. "I think I will make even less money now."
Inside the hospital, the morgue was overflowing, with four bodies lying on the ground. More than 90 people were killed in the fighting, including four Fatah militiamen executed on the street late Thursday, after the Hamas victory. Some Fatah officials had fled by boat, according to Fatah sources.
Fatah forces collapsed under the onslaught by Hamas, which showed superior organization and motivation. One by one, Hamas seized Fatah's security installations and marched once-feared Fatah fighters down the street shirtless and with hands raised.
The Palestinian territories are in effect split in two. Gaza is now controlled by Hamas, which has close ties to Syria and Iran. The more populous West Bank is dominated by the more moderate Fatah, which has ties to Israel and the West.
From his office in the West Bank town of Ramallah, Abbas declared a state of emergency Thursday, firing the Hamas-led government and its prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh.
Haniyeh brushed off Abbas' decision, calling it "hasty" and refusing to leave office. The situation was "not suitable for unilateral decisions," he said.
"The era of justice and Islamic rule has arrived," Hamas spokesman Islam Shahawan announced.
Fearful that Hamas' momentum could spread to the West Bank, Fatah went on the offensive there. In the city of Nablus, Fatah men shot dead a Hamas member early Friday, Hamas said, the first to be killed in the West Bank. The Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a violent Fatah offshoot, claimed responsibility.
On Thursday, angry Fatah militants trashed an office of Hamas lawmakers in Nablus.
But in Gaza, Thursday was a day of triumph for Hamas and its backers in Iran and Syria - and of devastation for Fatah.
No battle was more indicative of Gaza's hatreds and passions than the one at Preventive Security headquarters, one of Fatah's four main security bases in the strip.
Preventive Security carried out a brutal crackdown on Hamas in 1996, and the militants never forgot it. Witnesses, Fatah officials and a doctor reported gangland-style killings of the defeated fighters Thursday.
"There is a history to it, a vendetta and a settling of scores," said Palestinian lawmaker Hanan Ashrawi.
Fatah officials, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, said Hamas fatally shot seven Fatah fighters after they had surrendered. A doctor at Shifa Hospital said he examined two bodies that had been shot in the head at close range.
The stage for the struggle between Fatah and Hamas was set last year, when Hamas won parliamentary elections. Hamas reluctantly brought Fatah into a coalition government in March to quell an earlier round of violence, but the uneasy partnership began crumbling last month over control of security forces.
Abbas said Thursday he would install a new government. That decree will not reverse the Hamas takeover of Gaza, but might let Fatah consolidate its control over the West Bank, paving the way for two separate Palestinian governments.
Because Fatah recognizes Israel and past peace agreements, a boycott of the Palestinian government imposed by Israel and the international community after Hamas' electoral successes may no longer apply to the West Bank - only Gaza.
"The fact that President Abbas has fired the Hamas government is a very positive move in our opinion, and makes it easier to deal with and help the moderates," Miri Eisin, a spokeswoman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said Friday.
Some 2 million Palestinians live in the West Bank, while 1.4 million reside in Gaza.