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Abbas and Dahlan supporters clash at Al Aqsa University

In this Dec. 18, 2006 file photo, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, left, flashes the V-sign as then Fatah leader, Mohammed Dahlan, looks on in the West Bank town of Ramallah
AP Photo/Kevin Frayer, File
A similar escalation of tensions between Abbas and Dahlan supporters happened at the university a day earlier

Supporters of Palestinians President Mahmoud Abbas and his rival, Palestinian politician Mohammed Dahlan, clashed Monday outside of Al-Aqsa University in Gaza City, the second such event in as many days at the university.

Students were attending a ceremony on Monday to honor the first student body at the university, which began operations in 1991 in the midst of the First Intifada. The celebration was interrupted, as the scene soon became chaotic, with students hurling plastic chairs and fighting.

A similar escalation of tensions between Abbas and Dahlan supporters happened at the university a day earlier, at the Khan Younis campus of Al-Aqsa University. Police were called to disperse the incident, but no injuries were reported there.

The university condemned the attacks, saying that they would take legal measures against anybody that incited or contributed to the disruptions, and announced that they would cancel all student activities until the end of the current semester.

Mahmoud Abbas and Mohammed Dahlan have been vying for the leadership position in Fatah, the Palestinian political party founded by Yasser Arafat, for quite some time. They have shared a strong animus against the other over the past decade, reportedly spurred by reports in 2010 that Dahlan was planning a coup against Abbas.

Soon after, Abbas decided to remove Dahlan from Fatah’s central committee, accusing him of corruption and murder. Now, with the health of the 82-year-old Abbas in question, and an unclear line of succession, tensions have come to a head between supporters of Abbas and supporters of Dahlan, who is viewed as a potential successor to Abbas.

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