Clashes continue in Gaza

Five people injured and schools closed as Friday's ceasefire remains unobserved.

    Two days of gun battles in Gaza shattered a ceasefire hammered out earlier in the week [AFP]

    Friday's truce was agreed after Khalid Meshaal, head of Hamas, and Mahmoud Abbas, head of Fatah, agreed during a phone conversation to attempt another ceasefire and to withdraw their gunmen from the streets, a senior Fatah leader said.
    But the current ceasefire, the second announced in a week, appeared to be having little effect.
    Khalid al-Batsh, an Islamic Jihad leader, said in an interview with Al Jazeera: "A joint bureau of Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine [PFLP] and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine [DFLP] will resume meetings to ensure continuity of the ceasefire."
    "We are now holding intensive contacts with all factions ... Egyptian mediation efforts have also continued to try to resolve the crisis.
    "Gunmen in the street"
    Officials were due to meet later on Saturday to hammer out a fuller deal, but neither side had so far implemented Friday's agreement to rein in their armed forces and dismantle checkpoints erected across the Gaza Strip.
    Abu Amr, a 40-year-old citizen of Gaza, described the ceasefire agreements as "a joke and a broken record".
    He said he was keeping his three children at home even if schools re-opened.
    "I will not send them until I am sure that there are no gunmen in the street and we stop hearing the sounds of bullets and explosions," he said.
    Fatah gunmen stormed the Agriculture Ministry, ransacking offices and stealing computers and official documents, said  Mohammed al-Agha, the Agriculture Minister said on Saturday.
    Fatah denied anything had been stolen.

    Running gun battles

    Residents of the Gaza Strip had hidden in their homes on Friday as armed men fought running gun battles firing rifles and rocket-propelled grenades from streets and rooftops.
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    Hamas fighters also overran several compounds used by Abbas' Fatah movement, while Fatah members also stormed and burnt Gaza's Islamic university.

    Three members of the Palestinian intelligence service, including a deputy chief commander, were killed in fighting with Hamas fighters in the Jabalya refugee camp, security and medical sources said.


    Dozens of members of Abbas' presidential guard were wounded when Hamas fighters and members of the controversial Hamas "executive force" controlled fired a mortar into their training camp in Gaza City.


    "Between 40 and 50 new recruits of the presidential guard were wounded and there are perhaps some killed," one Fatah official said.


    On Thursday night, presidential guardsmen stormed the Islamic University, considered a Hamas stronghold, overnight.


    Hamas, which took power in March last year, has struggled to govern the Palestinian territory under the weight of US-backed sanctions imposed over its refusal to recognise Israel and accept existing interim peace deals with Israel.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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