Gaza setback for peace deal

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New signs of erosion in support for the peace deal in the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip emerged yesterday when a group of Palestinian gunmen overturned its earlier pledge to cease attacks on Israeli targets, vowing to take up arms to fight the 'Zionist enemy', Sarah Helm writes from Jerusalem. The Fatah Hawks, the military wing of Fatah, the moderate faction of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, which backs the peace deal, announced their renewed militancy after one of their group, Ahmed Abu al-Reesh, was shot dead by Israeli soldiers shortly after accepting an Israeli amnesty.

Widespread clashes eruped in Rafah refugee camp in Gaza yesterday as Israeli troops arrested the head of the Fatah Hawks, Taysir Bardini, described by Palestinians as a Yasser Arafat loyalist.

In Cairo, the PLO's chief negotiator, Nabil Shaath, accused Israel of trying to avoid the 13 December deadline for implementing Palestinian autonomy when the two sides resumed talks yesterday.