Palestinian minister resigns as two more killed in Gaza


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Gaza : Palestinian Interior Minister Hani al-Qawasmi stepped down Monday as two more people were killed and at least six injured in renewed Hamas – Fatah clashes.

Al-Qawasmi handed in his resignation and Prime Minister Ismail Haniya accepted, a spokesman in the premier's office said.

He has been bitter over the lack of cooperation between security forces answering to him and those answering to President Mahmoud Abbas in ending lawlessness in the Palestinian autonomous areas.

He had submitted his resignation earlier, in April, but until now Haniya had refused to accept it.

Two more people died Monday during the Hamas – Fateh clashes bringing to seven the number of Palestinians killed since Sunday in the first deadly clashes since the two rival groups formed a unity government in March.

The latest deaths were a bodyguard of Maher Meqdad, the spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' coalition Fatah party, and a bystander, Meqdad told reporters in Gaza.

Gunmen of the ruling Hamas movement had attacked his house and burnt down his nearby media office, he said.

After an Egyptian mediation the two groups had agreed to withdraw all armed men from the streets of Gaza by 1 a.m. Monday (2200 GMT).

Under the latest truce, the Fatah militants also pledged to release dozens of Hamas activists abducted during the day, but by late Monday morning had yet to do so.

Four Palestinians were killed in clashes between Fatah and Hamas Sunday. A fifth Palestinian was killed in a violent confrontation between two feuding families. At least 10 more people were injured when the clashes continued throughout the evening.

Since the formation of the Hamas-Fatah unity government on March 17, there have been sporadic skirmishes, but mainly between feuding families and no real street fighting between rival Hamas and Fatah militants.