Hamas and Fatah sign tentative truce

A tentative truce has been signed between Hamas and Fatah in Gaza. 21 people have been killed in two days of violence despite an earlier ceasefire agreement reached on Tuesday.

The gunfire is the latest internal violence to mar this coastal strip of land since Hamas won parliamentary elections last year and formed a cabinet. Battles have been raging in several parts of Gaza city, including government compounds and security headquarters. Dozens of Palestinians have been killed in the factional fighting between Hamas and Fatah despite a series of brief truces. As the violence spirals out of control, leaders have again called for calm and a return to negotiations.

“We also call everybody to have self-control and not give way to those who are trying to create trouble. We should go back to the negotiating table in order to close the gap and tackle the crisis again,” said Mushir al Masri, Hamas member.

Late on Thursday, hundreds of Fatah gunmen stormed a Hamas stronghold at the Islamic University in Gaza city. A security official affiliated with Fatah and seven Iranian citizens were arrested. An eighth committed suicide. Hamas denies there were Iranian citizens at the university. Iran is known to have supplied Hamas with funds, but until now there have been no claims of Iranians working with Hamas in Gaza.

Meanwhile, in the Jabaliya refugee camp, masked gunmen claiming to represent Hamas' military wing rejected the US president's request for Congress to approve $ U.S. 85 MLN  in aid for Palestinian security forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas heads the Fatah movement.

“The purpose of this preparation is to strengthen one party against Palestinian resistance parties and it is done with the agreement of the Zionist army and the American administration that help presidential guards with 86 million dollars. Just yesterday, the big devil Bush talked about his new American plan and we don't think any wise man can believe that this support comes in the interest of the Palestinian people,” stated Abu Obeida, spokesman for the Hamas military wing.

The violence between the two sides has claimed more than seventy lives since early December.