Fire-fight breaks fragile Gaza truce

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An uneasy truce between Hamas and Fatah appeared to be mainly holding in Gaza last night despite being breached by a fire-fight which killed two men in the early hours of yesterday.

But it was far from certain that efforts to reach the deeper political agreement most local politicians believe is necessary to embed the ceasefire will succeed.

Both factions withdrew most of their armed men from the city centre though a armed guard remained around the residence of the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. There was a gun battle 75 minutes after the ceasefire came into effect on Tuesday after members of Hamas went to eastern Gaza City to detain a Fatah member accused of shooting a leader of Hamas's military wing. Two members of the Dogmush clan were killed in the exchanges.

There were exchanges of fire during the two men's funeral later when mourners spotted Hamas gunmen in a nearby government building. In a separate incident about 1.30am, six police officers were wounded by unknown gunmen.

Saleh Zidane, the Gaza leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said a broad "unity government" involving most Palestinian factions was needed to consolidate the ceasefire.