Hamas returns to Gaza streets in smaller numbers

The Hamas-led government's militia returned to the streets of Gaza in small numbers on Saturday, a day after the Islamic group withdrew the force in an effort to calm an increasingly bloody standoff with forces loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The presence of the black-clad militia was much less visible than earlier this week, and the situation seemed to be calm. In some cases, Hamas members chatted quietly with members of the regular police force. Youssef Zahar, spokesman for the militia, said Saturday's deployment did not contradict the previous day's decision to pull the force off the streets. At the time, Hamas officials said the force would be based in fixed locations and resume limited patrols in the future.