Despite Violations, Hamas-Fatah Cease-fire Holds

Hamas and Fatah signed a cease-fire on Monday night bringing the latest round of internecine fighting in the Palestinian Authority to an end. The agreement, which was mediated by Egyptian representatives in Gaza, seemed to be holding yesterday in spite of a few violations.

A Hamas militant, who was both a member of the Iz al-Din al-Qassam (Hamas' military brigade) and an officer in the Palestinian Coast Guard, was killed yesterday in Khan Yunis when unknown persons shot him, a few hours after the cease-fire agreement was signed.

The killing brought to 34 the number of dead in the latest round of internecine fighting which began on Thursday.

Approximately 140 people were injured in the fighting and 40 were abducted by both organizations. However, the killing of the Hamas militant, Hussein Shubasi, 35, did not result in any additional cease-fire violations.

Most people in Khan Yunis believed the shooters had targeted Shubasi as revenge for the killing of a Fatah militant, a member of Force 17, a day earlier in a gunbattle with Hamas militants in the town.

The cease-fire in Gaza City is generally holding, and for the first time in five days there were no sounds of gunfire or explosions. There was some sporadic shooting in the morning in some neighborhoods.

Shops that had been closed for a number of days were opened and the civilians were able to emerge onto the streets.

The Egyptian security delegation and the counselor in the Egyptian delegation to the Gaza Strip, were instrumental in mediating between Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. The agreement went into effect on Tuesday morning at 3 A.M.

The two sides agreed to take all armed men off the streets, lift roadblocks set up by the factions, release the persons kidnapped, put an end to the incitement against the other in the media, and also hand over to the General Prosecutor's Office the suspects in the killing that took place last Thursday and triggered the violence.

It is doubtful whether this part of the agreement will be kept. As late as last night, the hostages were not released, but a Palestinian security source said they are expected to be freed during the night.

Only some of the roadblocks were lifted.

However, there was no sign of a presence of the Hamas Executive Force in the streets.