Palestinian gunmen kill Hamas commander

Updated: 2006-12-14 09:30

At the al-Fara home in Khan Younis, Hamas lawmaker Salah Bardawil said Abbas was responsible for failing to stop the security agencies from carrying out killings. "We ask the president to live up to his responsibilities before God and the law," he said.

After nightfall, gunmen fired at a Hamas rally at the Nusseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, witnesses said. One demonstrator was hurt.

Fatah activists also criticized Abbas; about 1,000 Fatah supporters marched to his house in Gaza City, demanding action.

Maj. Othman Shalouf, a Palestinian security officer, said Abbas must take charge of the situation.

"The time has come to exercise your powers and stop this farce," he said. "Security agencies are able to control things, but we need a political decision from you." Abbas was at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah at the time and had no plans to go to Gaza.

Also Wednesday, Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian near the Israel-Gaza border fence. The military said he was armed and carrying explosives. A cease-fire has stopped most violence between Israel and Gaza.

Abbas plans a speech to his people on Saturday in which he is expected to outline his plans to hold elections to break the deadlock between Fatah and Hamas.

The Hamas victory in January's parliamentary voting pushed Fatah out of power but led to an economic and political stalemate. Israel, the U.S. and the European Union, which list Hamas as a terror group, all cut off contacts, economic ties and aid to the Palestinian government, further deepening poverty and instability in the West Bank and Gaza.

Hamas is responsible for dozens of suicide bombing attacks in Israel over the past decade. The Islamic group has rejected international demands that it recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept existing peace deals, but Hamas flatly refuses.

Israel has tried to promote the idea of separate peace talks with Abbas, a moderate who was elected a year before the parliamentary vote.


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