Image: Injured brothers.
Khalil Hamra  /  AP
Palestinian Hamada al-Ottol, 19, below, and his brother Tahseen, 22, gather together in one room of their family house for the media, in the Jabaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip, on Tuesday. The brothers, who fought on opposing sides, were both badly wounded in a recent clash between Hamas and Fatah.
updated 2/7/2007 8:25:41 AM ET 2007-02-07T13:25:41

The two al-Ottol brothers are recovering in separate rooms of their house, wounded in the latest round of fighting between rival Hamas and Fatah militias — one on each side of the conflict.

Hamada al-Ottol, 19, was wounded while fighting for Fatah, the movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He wants revenge. His brother, Tahseen, 22, of Hamas, hopes a summit underway in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, can stop the internal conflict before the rift between them becomes irreconcilable.

More than 100 Palestinians have been killed in months of clashes that followed a Hamas election victory a year ago, with most of the security forces remaining in the hands of Fatah, which lost the vote. Flare-ups have led to fears of an all-out civil war between the two most powerful Palestinian movements.

Abbas is meeting in Mecca with Hamas leaders in the latest in a series of attempts to bridge wide ideological gaps and form a unity government.

The brothers say they feel each other’s pain and will never point their guns at each other.

But Hamada didn’t want to express his views in his brother’s presence. He was interviewed in his room before joining his brother upstairs. He sharply criticized Hamas, blaming it for targeting Fatah members, and said his group only defended itself.

The family had to keep the brothers on two separate floors in the same house because arguments broke out between their visitors, from Fatah and Hamas.

“Our guns have now become impure. The fighting and the blood has become like a cup of tea, a very normal thing,” Hamada said.

'How much worse can it be?'
The two were wounded in the same battle, when Hamas gunmen stormed an uncle’s house. Hamada was hit by shrapnel, breaking his jaw and leaving him with only one eye.

Tahseen went to the house to warn his brother but was hit with a bullet in the stomach, he said. Four people died in the battle, two from each side.

The fact that he went to warn his brother, Tahseen said, is proof that brothers still stand up for each other. “I have an opinion and he has his. But the leaders of Hamas and Fatah shouldn’t widen this gap between us,” he said from his bed.

Their father, Mohammed, 48, said if the leaders in Mecca don’t reach an agreement, he will pull his sons from the warring security factions.

“How much worse can it be?” he said. “Hamada used to have two eyes. Now he has one.”

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