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SOS from Palestine
by Al-Ahram Weekly (reposted)
Thursday May 17th, 2007 4:06 PM
Gaza is on the verge of explosion once again as internecine fighting between Hamas and Fatah continues, reports Khaled AmayrehM from East Jerusalem
As inter-Palestinian fighting in Gaza entered its fourth day, Israeli aircraft targeted the southern town of Rafah with missiles, killing four Hamas members and wounding at least 20 people on Wednesday.

A surprise ceasefire agreement between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal, concluded over the phone, was announced the same day. It is the second ceasefire agreement between Fatah and Hamas in a week.

The agreement, which many assume will last only a few hours, did not prevent Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister Azzam Al-Ahmed from urging Abbas to declare martial law in an attempt to contain the violence. According to Al-Ahmed, Abbas is considering the proposal.

Palestinian law allows the president to declare a state of emergency for up to 30 days after which it can be extended only with the approval of the Hamas-dominated legislative council.

Following the eruption of factional violence in Gaza earlier this week Palestinian political leaders appealed to Arab states, particularly Egypt, to make more intensive efforts to stop the infighting from spiralling out of control

The confrontation, the bloodiest since the signing of the Saudi-brokered Mecca Accords on 8 February, has claimed more than 28 lives, and the death toll is expected to rise as the shooting continues.

Ahmed Youssef, political adviser to Prime Minister, told Al-Ahram Weekly he hoped "brotherly Arab countries" would take "serious and proactive steps to stop this madness".

Youssef thanked Egypt for "its strenuous efforts" to end the confrontation but admitted that unless the Palestinians displayed the will to help themselves any mediation effort was destined to fail.

The main problem, he said, was the inability of both Fatah and Hamas "to control their men in the streets".