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Hamas, Fatah Divide over Gaza Security Plan and Exchange Fire
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The militants from Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) and Fatah movement on Thursday exchanged fire while the two movements releasing their hostages in Gaza Strip, despite Palestinian troops have deployed in the area to restore order.

A spokesman for Hamas revealed that all hostages have been released after Fatah-Hamas coordination office controlled the situation, no casualties were reported in the clash.

Witnesses said that a group of Fatah militants intercepted members of a Hamas police force, known as the executive forces, on Saladin road in Central Gaza Strip and seized them.

However, other local residents said the incident was a subsequent development of an earlier problem between Hamas and a local warlord whose relative's house was stormed by the executive forces in search for drugs.

The incident came as tens of security forces deployed in the Gaza Strip to restore security amid controversy over the decision to deploy them.

The deployment started after midnight and the forces were seen stopping and checking cars. Security sources said the deployment of the troops would be completed in the coming 48 hours.

But Palestinian Interior Minister Hani al-Qawasmeh disclosed in the day that the deployment of Palestinian security forces on Gaza streets was a personal initiative by officers.

The minister added that his security plan, approved by the government, did not take effect, reiterating that his resignation would go ahead unless President Mahmoud Abbas would meet promises of giving more power to the minister.

"If my demands are fulfilled, the first step of the security restoration plan would be put," said the minister after meeting Prime Minister Ismail Haneya of Hamas.

However, Nabil Shaath, a Fatah lawmaker and advisor for Abbas, said the consumption of troops was a result of a deal reached between Abbas and Haneya.

According to Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha, its movement "was astonished after the forces were deployed without coordination with the executive force" of Hamas.

A security sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed Hamas-run executive force was not taking part in the operation room that was set up to follow the implementation of the security measures.

The executive force was established by former Interior Minister Said Siam of Hamas. Observers say the new minister, independent but close to Hamas, can not control the executive force "which remain loyal to Siam."

Moreover, the ruling Hamas movement issued a statement criticizing the "random deployment" of the forces without coordination with political factions and their military wings.

The statement also urged the Interior Ministry "to take into consideration the existence of Israeli occupation and the movement of the Palestinian resistance elements," calling on the security forces "to open the space for resistance movements and not intercepting them."

(Xinhua News Agency May 11, 2007)

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