"The tensions in Gaza were felt all the way in the West Bank city of Qalqiliya where merchants in the local marketplace decided not only to mark down prices but also shave off their beards.
"Nowadays a beard is no longer a religious decree, it's a clear and present danger," one of the merchants told Ynet. "Fatah harasses anyone with a beard and beats them, so may Allah forgive us if we remove ours to stay safe. As it is the beard is optional and not mandatory," he said.
In Ramallah last weekend three French citizens were badly beaten by Fatah men who suspected them of being affiliated with Hamas due to their facial hair. Hamas meanwhile has accused Fatah of persecuting the religion of Islam and subsequently anyone who looks religious due to his appearance.......
Even the PA troops, whose main concern is usually directing traffic and chatting with shoppers, were tense and on alert; examining ID cards, mostly those belonging to Palestinians. Israelis? That's just fine, come and shop.
Not far from the market is the Qalqiliya city hall, the glass pane of its front door smashed in and other parts of the building have been vandalized. City workers have not yet even bothered to sweep up the broken shards from the pavement outside. Hamas is in complete control of the city and every one of the 15 council members is from the movement. One of the councilmen apologizes that he cannot meet with us: "We've decided to lay low since we might be arrested by the PA or kidnapped and harmed by Fatah. God knows when this situation will end......"