The Hamas-Fatah power struggle has descended into the gutter over the past few days, with both parties trading allegations about the involvement of their members in homosexual relations and adultery.
The alleged "sex scandals" are said to have occurred in the Gaza Strip, which fell into Hamas's hands in June.
Shortly after the Islamist movement wrested control of the Strip, Hamas officials began talking about "embarrassing" and "damning" documents and films that were seized inside Palestinian Authority security headquarters formerly controlled by Fatah.
According to the officials, the Fatah men had been spying on several senior PA officials, some of whom were caught on tape having homosexual intercourse.
A DVD distributed among a limited number of Hamas representatives features a former PA official having sex with another man. The disc, according to a Palestinian journalist in Gaza City, is being sold on the black market for NIS 20.
Hamas says the PA's Preventive Security Force played a major role in collecting the evidence against the senior PA officials. In some cases, Hamas said, the documents and tapes were used to extort large sums of money from the PA officials.
Two documents that were allegedly seized inside Preventative Security Force headquarters provide insight into the method used to collect information about the sexual conduct of the top officials.
According to one document, entitled "A Large Number of Homosexuals," a number of wealthy and influential figures in the Gaza Strip had formed a "gang" for practicing homosexual intercourse.
"Some of them were summoned for questioning and they admitted to having sexual intercourse with boys and adult males," the document, dated May 12, 2005, stated.
"Some of them had individual sex, while others preferred group sex. Some of them paid money for sex, while others performed sexual intercourse with males in front of their wives."
The sex allegedly took place in hotels, clinics and private homes - in some cases with a picture of Yasser Arafat hanging overhead.
The document described the homosexuals as a "very dangerous group" and warned that the phenomenon might spread to other parts of the Gaza Strip, adding that rival political factions could exploit the case to defame Fatah and "create chaos and confusion."
The second document is a follow-up to the first.
Entitled "Results of Questioning," it names four homosexuals who allegedly had sexual relations with senior Fatah officials in the Strip.
The four supposedly blackmailed the officials after filming them during sexual intercourse. "Since we are talking about top Fatah figures, there is a need to summon them and talk to them," the document, dated May 19, 2005, concluded.
A Hamas official in the Gaza Strip said the documents were the "tip of the iceberg" and that his movement was planning to reveal more evidence about Fatah's "moral corruption."
The official said Hamas had already posted a short video on the YouTube Web site showing used condoms that were found inside the offices of senior Fatah security commanders and political figures.
Another Hamas official said his men had uncovered three brothels that had been frequented by top Fatah officials in the Gaza Strip.
Fatah officials in Ramallah refused to comment on the latest allegations. However, they stressed that it was not hard to forge such documents since Hamas was now in control of the security headquarters and of all the archives and files inside the buildings.
But a respected Palestinian journalist in Gaza City who examined the two documents said there was no reason to doubt their authenticity.
In a bid to counter the Hamas campaign, Fatah members have published details about "sex scandals" involving Hamas activists.
According to Fatah, a Hamas imam was recently caught having sex with a male minor in a mosque basement.
In another incident, according to Fatah, a senior member of Hamas's armed wing, Izaddin Kassam, was expelled from his refugee camp after he was caught having sex with a male colleague in a vehicle. And according to a report on a Fatah-controlled Web site, a Hamas man was caught naked together with his neighbor's wife in her bedroom.
"These Hamas people are very immoral and corrupt," said a senior Fatah official. "They use Islam as a cover-up for their crimes. But our people know very well who they are dealing with. We have a lot of information about the moral corruption of many Hamas officials and we will make them public at the right time."