"There isn't a lot of hope or optimism in any announcement among the Palestinian public as a lot of similar ceasefires have been reached and broken just as quickly," Nour Odeh, Al Jazeera's Gaza correspondent, said.

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"Gaza will collapse into chaos"

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The deal came after Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, spoke to Damascus-based Khaled Meshaal, the supreme Hamas leader, who urged senior Hamas and Fatah officials to meet.

"Both leaders ... made their calculations and realised that they can't gain this way," Mustafa Barghouti, the Palestinian information minister, said.

A convoy carrying a top aide to Abbas's intelligence chief in the Gaza Strip came under fire shortly after the agreement was signed but Mohammad al-Masri of Fatah was reportedly unharmed.

Israeli air strikes

Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, said he expected Saturday's truce to stick because of Israel's recent military strikes. "No one would accept to fight one another while the Israelis are shelling Gaza," he said.

Israel said air strikes on Saturday targeted
Qassam rocket factories [EPA]
Tawfiq Abu Khoussa, a senior Fatah leader, seemed to agree: "It would be a stigma if internal violence continued amid such Israeli aggression." 

Three Palestinians were killed on Saturday as Israel continued the air strikes it says are against Hamas targets.

The Israeli army said it carried out an air raid in Beit Hanoun against "three members of a Qassam rocket-launching cell that had just fired a rocket towards Israel."

Earlier, Israel said its aircraft had struck two Hamas weapons' depots in the Gaza Strip. Palestinians said the targets were metal foundries with no connection to Hamas.

The armed wing of Hamas responded by firing a rocket-propelled grenade at an Israeli army bulldozer just inside Gaza's northern border with Israel wounding two Israeli soldiers.


Hamas targets

Israel also threatened on Saturday to go after sensitive Hamas targets in an effort to halt rocket fire from Gaza.
 
Amir Peretz, the Israeli defence minister, told Israel Radio that Tel Aviv would leave open the possibility of strikes against the group's political and military leaders.

 

"The Palestinians need to understand that Hamas is leading them into disaster, a real disaster," he said. "It is our intention to act against Hamas." 

 

Asked whether Ahmed Jaberi, the head of Hamas' military wing, and Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian prime minister, could also be targets, Peretz said he would not rule out any action that "makes it clear to everyone that we don't intent to allow anyone to harm Israeli citizens."

A baarage of rockets fired from Gaza into southern Israel on Saturday caused some damage but no injuries.