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Clashes between the Hamas and Fatah erupted in the central Gaza Strip on Thursday, marring the launch of a new security plan aimed at halting the wave of violence plaguing the crowded coastal area.
Palestinian medical officials said one person was wounded - and four people were kidnapped and then released - in the fighting in the Nusseirat refugee camp. No further details were immediately available.
The fighting came as Palestinian officials moved forward with the launch of a new security plan aimed at restoring law and order in the chaotic Gaza Strip.
In the first phase of the plan, an estimated 3,000 police fanned out throughout Gaza City, taking up positions at main intersections and government buildings. The police were not stationed in the area of the gunbattle.
The deployment came as Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and his top security commanders agreed to take additional steps to bring law and order to the Gaza Strip.
But some Gazans had doubts after many months of unrest.
Badar Salim, 45, a merchant in downtown Gaza, said the show of force was encouraging, but he was skeptical it would be effective in the long run. "They look good. But can they do anything? I doubt that very much," he said. "I hope this is something real, not just a show for the media."
The plan includes a joint operations room to be staffed by members of various security forces as well a joint security unit, said Haniyeh's spokesman, Ghazi Hamad. He also said security commanders would hold meetings with leaders of Gaza's political parties and militant groups to maintain calm.
"Lawlessness and chaos have become very dangerous in Gaza, and all the participants are determined to end the chaos and restore security," he said.
Since the Israeli disengagement from Gaza in 2005, the area has experienced a wave of infighting, armed robberies, deadly family feuds and kidnappings.
Past attempts to halt the violence have failed, and the interior minister in the new Palestinian coalition government, Hani Kawasmeh, has threatened to resign because his plan for restoring security has not been carried out.
Haniyeh, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas were meeting later Thursday to discuss the interior minister's complaints.
Hamas and Fatah formed a unity government in March with the aim of restoring calm. The alliance has brought a lull in factional fighting, but crime and violence remain rampant in Gaza.
Despite their power-sharing deal, Hamas and Fatah remain at odds over control over security forces. Hamas has its own force, and it was unclear how it would fit in to the new security plan. The force did not participate in Thursday's patrols.
Fatah has long demanded that the Hamas force be dismantled, but Hamas has refused.
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