New Gaza ceasefire appears to take hold

Hamas and Fatah gunmen left rooftop positions and exchanged hostages on Saturday as part of a new ceasefire aimed at ending a week of factional violence.

Hamas and Fatah gunmen left their rooftop positions and exchanged hostages on Saturday as part of anew ceasefire aimed at ending factional violence that has engulfed the Gaza Strip for more than a week.

The latest agreement, thefifth in the past six days, was brokered by Egypt as leaders fromthe rival factions met at the Egyptian Embassy in Gaza, a senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said.
A Palestinian hostage from Hamas is hugged by his mother after being released as part of a ceasefire between Fatah and Hamas. ((Adel Hana/Associated Press))

The deal was announcedon the same day Israeliair strikes hitsuspected Hamas targets, killing four Palestinians.

Israel has carried out a wave ofmissile strikes and tank firein Gaza in the pastweek following cross-border rocket attacks by Palestinian militants.

Previous ceasefire agreements reached in recent days havequickly collapsed, but Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said he expected this one to stick because of Israel's military action.

"No one would accept to fight one another while the Israelis are shelling Gaza," he said.
Palestinian security force officers loyal to Fatah run along a Gaza City street on Saturday as they leave their positions after clashes with Hamas militants. ((Khalil Hamra/Associated Press))

Truce enforcers from various Palestinian factions went from rooftop to rooftop, urging gunmen to leave. At one Gaza City building that had been the site of fierce fighting, Hamas fighters climbed down carrying a cache of rocket-propelled grenades, bags of explosives and AK-47 rifles.

Thegunmenalso began knocking down roadblocks they had set up to identify rival fighters. About 30 hostagestaken byboth sides were released.

The week-long Hamas-Fatah fighting has killed more than 50 Palestinians and wounded dozens. The clashes have all but destroyed acoalition deal between the two factions.

No major ground offensive in works, Peretz says

Earlier, Israel's defence minister warned that Israel will not let up in its strikes against Hamas and that militants firing rockets on Israeli border towns should be "very afraid."

At the same time,Amir Peretztold Israel Radio thatthe time is not right for a major ground offensive in Gaza.

Peretz also insisted Israel is not interfering in the internal fighting, despite allegations that Israel is helping Fatah by driving Hamas fighters out of their bases

Shortly after Peretz spoke, an Israeli aircraft fired missiles toward a rocket squad near the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, the army said. Hospital officials said two Palestinians were killed and four wounded in the strike.

Five rockets from Gaza hit the Israeli border area Saturday, causing damage, but no injury.

Earlier in the day, Israeli missile strikes demolished two suspected Hamas metal workshops.

Saturday's deaths brought to 23 the number of Palestinians killed in air strikes in the past week.

With files from the Associated Press