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Palestinians Call Truce After Brutal Turn in Factional Fighting

11 June 2007

Rival Palestinian groups have called a truce after a new wave of factional fighting that has left six people dead and dozens wounded since Saturday. But as Robert Berger reports from VOA's Jerusalem bureau, expectations are low for an end to the fighting.

The Islamic militant group Hamas and rival Fatah faction agreed to a cease-fire after a brutal turn in internal fighting in Gaza. It began when Hamas gunmen kidnapped a member of the Fatah presidential guard and threw him off the roof of a 15-story apartment building. Fatah retaliated by throwing a Hamas activist off a 12-story building.

Both men were killed.

Fatah militants also kidnapped a Hamas mosque preacher and executed him.

In another dangerous escalation, Fatah gunmen fired at the home of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas. No one was hurt.

Palestinian mediator Ibrahim Abu Najah, who helped arrange the truce, doubts that it will hold.

In remarks broadcast on Israel Radio, Abu Najah said there have been dozens of cease-fires. But he said the gunmen who rule the streets do not answer to anyone and are intent on spilling Palestinian blood.

Israeli analyst Menachem Klein agrees.

"Hamas is a national religious party with gangs. Fatah is a national conservative party with gangs," Klein noted. "And each of them lost control over the man in the field, in the street. So there is chaos in the streets of Gaza."

And in light of the latest incidents, many believe the chaos is going from bad to worse.

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