Egyptian mediators secure ceasefire between Hamas, Fatah

GAZA, May 19 (Xinhua) — Warring Palestinian factions of Hamas and Fatah reached a ceasefire deal on Saturday afternoon following Egypt’s successful efforts to bring the two sides together.    The deal calls for removing chokepoints and roadblocks from Gaza City streets by 15:00 local time (12:00 GMT), displacing snipers and gunmen from high buildings an hour later after the two sides exchange hostages, said Fatah spokesman Abdel Hakim Awad.

    Burhan Hamad, the chief of the Gaza-based Egyptian security team, participated in the meeting that was held at the Egyptian embassy in Gaza City. The two factions will exchange their hostage at the same place.

    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haneya of Hamas sent a message to the conferees urging them to abide by the agreements and to maintain the fourth deal.

    The three previous deals during the six-day-old fighting have failed to last more than a few minutes. Hamas and Fatah officials will remain on session to secure full implementation of the latest ceasefire.

    President Abbas is expected to arrive in Gaza City later in the day as part of efforts to scale down the worst and bloodies violence between Hamas and Fatah since their February power-sharing pact.

    Shortly after the announcement of the deal, witnesses said that a convoy for a pro-Abbas security chief came under fire and clashes ensued on al-Nasser Street in Gaza City.

    Security sources said the convoy was for Muhammad al-Masri, the temporary chief of the Palestinian Intelligence Service, accusing Hamas gunmen of starting the shooting.

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