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Gunmen belonging to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction shot and seriously wounded two Palestinians suspected of "collaboration" with Israel on Wednesday. The shootings took place in Nablus, where the two "collaborators" were dragged to the main square and shot in the legs.
Meanwhile, PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas announced that his movement wanted a cease-fire with Israel.
A spokesman for Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, said the two, whose identities were not revealed, had "confessed" during interrogation to working for the Israeli security forces. The spokesman did not elaborate, though he promised that the group would later release a videotape of the alleged confessions.
"We have shot these two traitors in the legs to punish them and deter others from helping the Israeli enemy," the Fatah spokesman said. "The Aksa Martyrs Brigades will strike against anyone who provides the occupation with information that helps in the assassination or capture of resistance activists."
Sources in the city said PA policemen who were at the scene did not make any effort to stop the gunmen. They pointed out that some of the gunmen were themselves members of the PA security forces.
A leaflet distributed in Nablus by the same group issued a 30-day ultimatum to Palestinian "collaborators" to hand themselves over to the Aksa Martyrs Briagdes or the PA security forces or the nearest mosque.
"Our men have succeeded in detecting a large number of traitors in Nablus," the leaflet read. "We will provide the necessary help to all those who repent and no one will know about his deeds."
The shooting of the "collaborators" is a sign of the pressure the gunmen are under in the wake of the growing activities of the IDF in the West Bank.
Two senior Fatah gunmen were killed by the IDF on Tuesday, one in Ramallah and the other in Jenin. Earlier this week, IDF troops arrested several wanted Fatah gunmen in different locations of the West Bank. Among those arrested was Jamal Tirawi, spokesman for the Fatah list in the Palestinian Legislative Council.
In another development, Abbas met in Gaza City on Wednesday with Ismail Haniyeh and discussed with him the possibility of declaring a unilateral truce with Israel. The two also discussed ways of defusing tensions between Fatah and Hamas and preventing the collapse of the Hamas-led unity government.
This was Haniyeh's first appearance in public after reports that Israel was planning to liquidate Hamas leaders in response to the continued rocket attacks on Israel. Earlier this week Haniyeh stayed away from the weekly meeting of his cabinet out of fear for his life. A previous meeting between Abbas and Haniyeh was held at an undisclosed location and journalists were not invited for "security reasons."
Also Wednesday, Haniyeh met with members of the Egyptian security delegation who are based in the Gaza Strip. They discussed the proposed truce with Israel and the situation inside the Gaza Strip.
Haniyeh said after the meeting that his government was close to announcing a series of security measures to impose law and order in the Gaza Strip. He added that the measures include the appointment of new security commanders in the Gaza Strip.
Asked about the possibility of halting the Kassam rocket attacks, Haniyeh said: "We support a simultaneous, mutual and comprehensive cease-fire to protect the interests of the Palestinian people. The ball is now in the Israeli court."