GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The Palestinian political rift widened Sunday as a new pro-Western government took power in the West Bank and Islamist Hamas forces consolidated their control of the Gaza Strip.
At his West Bank compound in Ramallah, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas installed the new emergency Cabinet to replace the Hamas-dominated government he dissolved over the weekend.
Abbas, leader of the secular Fatah party, also issued a decree banning the Hamas-led military force in the Gaza Strip. But Hamas defied the order by dispatching its military to patrol the Gaza City streets - a clear demonstration of the group's complete control of the increasingly isolated Mediterranean coastal area.
Fearing for their lives and their future, hundreds of Palestinians rushed to the abandoned border crossing with Israel in an attempt to flee after five days of factional fighting that claimed more than 120 lives. Those that remained stocked up on food and fuel amid early signs that the region would face a summer of shortages.
The main cargo terminal linking Gaza to the outside world has been closed since the fighting reached its peak last week and ended with full Hamas control.
Aid workers said there are enough basic foodstuffs to last two weeks for most Palestinians as the United Nations, which provides food and services to about half of the Gaza Strip residents, wrestled with how to respond.
On Sunday, the Israeli company that provides fuel to the Gaza Strip announced that it was cutting off automotive gasoline to Gaza. That could leave the region's ambulances and emergency hospital generators without fuel in 10 days, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
As anxiety rose in the Gaza Strip, Abbas and his new government sought to reassure all Palestinians that they would not ignore the area now that it has fallen under Hamas control.
"You are in our hearts and at the top of our agenda," said Salam Fayyad, the pro-Western economist tapped by Abbas to serve as prime minister of the emergency government.
Although the crisis has created a dangerous internal rift for Palestinians, it has provided Israel and the West with a new opportunity to reinvigorate stagnant peace talks.
Both the United States and Israel have indicated that they will establish normal relations with the new government after refusing to work with the Hamas-dominated Cabinet because of its refusal to explicitly recognize Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is now in the United States for meetings with United Nations leader Ban Ki-moon and President Bush.
Mark Regev, a spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry, said he expected Israel to move swiftly to bolster the emergency Cabinet with money and diplomatic support that was severed last year when Hamas took control of the Palestinian Authority in democratic elections.
"No one is happy about what happened in the last few days and no one is ecstatic that Hamas has won this victory in Gaza," said Regev. "But we have to deal with the new realities, we have to work with the new realities, we have to find effective policies that take these new realities into account."
As Israel contemplated what to do about Gaza, the country's northern border was rattled when two Katyusha rockets hit Kiryat Shmona, a central target for Hezbollah attacks during last summer's 34-day war.
The rockets, the first since the war ended last August, caused minor damage. Hezbollah denied that it had fired the rockets and it appeared that Palestinian militants were behind the attack. Israel indicated that it would not respond with serious force.
In Gaza, Hamas faced a new challenge to its authority from the militant group holding kidnapped BBC correspondent Alan Johnston. In one of its first moves after routing Fatah last week, Hamas threatened to take action to forcibly free Johnston if he was not quickly released.
On Sunday, the militants holding Johnston denied Hamas reports that the reporter would be released soon and threatened to kill him unless their demands were met.
Hamas sought to establish its authority by placing its forces across the Gaza Strip. Masked gunmen universally obeyed a Hamas directive that they stop hiding their faces while patrolling the streets.
Defeated Fatah loyalists remained in hiding across Gaza or sought to escape.
At the Erez border crossing with Israel, hundreds of anxious Palestinians packed into the concrete terminal with largely vain hopes that Israel would open the border and let them out. Young children sprawled out on stuffed, battered suitcases. Wounded men with crutches lay on concrete benches. Vendors sold cigarettes and shaved ice.
Frustrated Gaza residents pressed against razor wire set up by other Palestinians about 100 yards short of the first gate leading into the Israeli border crossing. Those inside said Israelis fired tear gas and warning shots to keep the Palestinians from trying to rush the gates.
Hamas militants set up a checkpoint leading to the terminal and turned back many who tried to flee. Nearby, at least two Israeli tanks that moved into Gaza kept watch and occasionally fired warning shots from dirt berms overlooking the crossing.
Inside the terminal, Abu Shaban, a 37-year-old member of the Palestinian Authority intelligence system, sat on top of a small Adidas bag filled with two pairs of pants, goalie gloves and an extra pair of shoes.
To get out, Abu Shaban told the checkpoint guards that he was part of a Palestinian soccer team heading to Jordan for a game. But he, like many others, was uncertain about getting out.
"Hamas did more bad things in one year than Fatah did in 30 or 40 years," said Abu Shaban.