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Palestinian groups end Gaza infighting

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party and Hamas have ordered their fighters off the streets in Gaza to end infighting that has left 13 people wounded.

Last Modified: 20 Jul 2005 00:10 GMT
Hamas and Fatah members clashed in Gaza on Tuesday

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party and Hamas have ordered their fighters off the streets in Gaza to end infighting that has left 13 people wounded.

At a press conference late on Tuesday evening, Nizar Rayyan, a Hamas spokesman and Sufyan Abu Zaidai, Palestinian minister for prisoners, announced that all fighters had been ordered to return to their homes, after the two sides reached an agreement to stop the fighting. 

"Nothing is better than our unity against our enemy (Israel)," said senior Hamas leader Nizar Rayyan.

Earlier on Tuesday, clashes erupted between Fatah and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, especially in northern Gaza, which left at least 13 people wounded.

It was the worst Palestinian infighting in several years.

Blame game

The latest fighting on Tuesday evening in Bait Lahya come hours after at least 11 Palestinians were wounded in clashes between Palestinian security forces and members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades fighting elements from the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, at the Jabalya refugee camp.

Tuesday's clashes in the Gaza left
at least 24 people wounded

The two sides have accused each other of sparking the violence, Aljazeera reported.

Elsewhere, Israeli soldiers killed an al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades leader and his deputy in the West Bank.

The raid started on Monday night, when Israeli troops in about 30 Jeeps and two bulldozers invaded the village of al-Yamun, part of the Jenin municipality, in the West Bank.

Israeli raid

The raid provoked clashes with Palestinian fighters, said Aljazeera's correspondent in al-Yamun, Ali al-Sumodi. 

A gunfight ensued between the two fighters and Israeli troops who surrounded the house they were holed up in. The two were killed and later identified as
Ibrahim Abahra, 27, leader of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Jenin, and his deputy, Warrad Abahra, 23, the correspondent said.

Israeli forces were preventing journalists as well as the Palestinian Red Cross and Red Crescent from entering the area where the fighters were killed, al-Sumodi said.

Several homes in the village were raided and two were demolished, Aljazeera learned.

Two of Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades fighters and several youth were detained and taken to an undisclosed location.

The village's gates were sealed off by Israeli troops who maintained a presence.

Burnt down 

Tensions between Hamas and Fatah rose after two Hamas-affiliated research companies were burnt down. Two teenage bystanders were also killed last week in the worst Palestinian internal conflict in years.

"Nothing is better than our unity against our enemy (Israel)"

Nizar Rayyan,
Senior Hamas leader

Hamas and Palestinian officials traded accusations of blame for the latest clashes, which followed President Mahmoud Abbas' warning to resistance fighters that he would not tolerate any further fighting with his security forces or attacks on Israel.

Palestinian Interior Ministry spokesman Tawfiq Abu Khussa said Hamas fighters had wounded three members of Abbas' Fatah movement in shooting attacks and burned three Fatah vehicles.

Hamas, a resistance movement that has posed a growing political and military challenge to Abbas, accused security force members of being behind the torching of two pro-Hamas offices and a Hamas vehicle.

The research companies, including the al-Arabi Centre for Research for Studies and Documentaries, were burnt down before dawn.

A Palestinian security official said the police had opened an investigation into the fires.

Call for arrests

Ismail Shakir, director of al-Arabi Centre that published four books during the recent fighting, including one about Hamas leaders killed by Israel, said he got a phone call early on Tuesday telling him his centre had been burnt down.

Two teenage bystanders were
killed in similar clashes last week 

He could not give an immediate estimate of the damage.

"This incident is a very serious and a very dangerous one and can serve only the Zionist enemy. We call on the Palestinian Authority to show its responsibility and to arrest whoever is behind this awful crime," Shakir said.

The latest conflict takes place ahead of a meeting scheduled to be held later on Tuesday between all Palestinian factions and an Egyptian security delegation.

Also on Tuesday, rocket and mortar shells were fired at two Jewish settlements in the southern Gaza Strip.

The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades issued two statements claiming responsibility for the attacks, Aljazeera's correspondent said.

Source:
Aljazeera + Agencies
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