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15 May, 2007 05:14

Latest Gaza violence claims 16 dead

Latest Gaza violence claims 16 dead

The third day of factional violence in the Gaza strip has brought the number of casualties to 16 dead and more then 30 injured. The surge of violence, the highest in several months, forced the Interior Minister, Hani Kawasmeh, to resign.

Last night a cease-fire agreement was reached  between the rival Hamas and Fatah groups, but Palestinian truces have never lasted long, and this time was no different. Shooting continues in Gaza.

Central to this latest conflict is the question of control over the Palestinian security forces. There are some 18,000  security officers – the majority of them aligned with President Mahmoud Abass’ Fatah faction. However Hamas holds a 6,000-strong militia in the region, which makes the situation very unstable, provoking inter-factional tensions to spill into street shootings.

Experts in Palestine warn that this latest wave of violence has raised tensions to a point, when the national unity government could collapse within several days.