Archive for Friday, May 11, 2007

Security plan starts amid Hamas, Fatah clashes

May 11, 2007

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— Clashes between the rival Hamas and Fatah forces erupted Thursday in the central Gaza Strip, marring the launch of a new security plan aimed at halting the wave of violence plaguing the crowded coastal area.

Palestinian medical officials said one person was wounded - and four people were kidnapped and then released - in the fighting in the Nusseirat refugee camp.

The fighting came as Palestinian officials moved forward with the start of the security plan aimed at restoring law and order in the chaotic Gaza Strip.

In the first phase of the plan, an estimated 3,000 police fanned out in Gaza City, taking up positions at main intersections and government buildings. The police were not stationed in the area of the gunbattle.

The deployment came as Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and his top security commanders agreed to take additional steps to bring law and order to the Gaza Strip.

But some Gazans had doubts after many months of unrest.

Badar Salim, 45, a downtown merchant, said the show of force was encouraging, but he was skeptical it would be effective in the long run. "They look good. But can they do anything? I doubt that very much," he said. "I hope this is something real, not just a show for the media."

The plan includes a joint operations room to be staffed by members of various security forces as well as a joint security unit, said Haniyeh's spokesman, Ghazi Hamad. He also said security commanders would meet with leaders of Gaza's political parties and militant groups to maintain calm.

"Lawlessness and chaos have become very dangerous in Gaza, and all the participants are determined to end the chaos and restore security," he said.

Since Israeli withdrew from Gaza in 2005, the area has experienced a wave of infighting, armed robberies, deadly family feuds and kidnappings.

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