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Palestinian Forces to Redeploy in N Gaza Strip
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An agreement has been reached between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other factions' leaders to redeploy Palestinian security forces in the northern Gaza Strip, the Ramallah-based al-Ayyam daily reported on Sunday.

The daily quoted official sources as saying that the deal was to prevent Palestinian militants launching homemade rockets on Israel and stop Israeli military actions in the Strip.

Abbas informed the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of the agreement, asking Rice to forward the information to Israel, the daily said, adding that the US top diplomat welcomed the idea of redeploying Palestinian security forces in the northern Gaza Strip.

On Thursday, Abbas said that Palestinian militant groups had agreed on a ceasefire with Israel to end an almost-eight-week-old violence in the Gaza Strip, underlining that ceasefire was necessary for the Palestinians to "live in peace and security and to attract foreign investment".

However, spokesman for the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in Gaza Sami Abu Zuhri and senior leader of Islamic Jihad (Holy War) Khaled al-Batsh had denied that a cease-fire deal had been reached with Abbas.

Israel has pressed ahead a massive air and ground offensive in the Gaza Strip in a bid to rescue a soldier kidnapped by Palestinian militants on June 25 and halt Palestinian rocket fire.

Over 160 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli military offensive in Gaza, the first of its kind in the desert coastal strip since Israel pulled out of it last summer.

(Xinhua News Agency August 21, 2006)

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