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Palestinians to Deploy Security Forces to Prevent Attacks against Israel

A senior Palestinian commander says security forces will be deployed in Gaza to prevent militant attacks against Israel. The decision comes as new Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas tries to persuade militant groups to halt the violence.

Top Gaza and West Bank security chief, Abdel-Razek al-Majaide said Palestinian security forces would soon be stationed near parts of the Gaza border with Israel to prevent attacks by militant groups. There is growing pressure on the new Palestinian leadership to stop attacks against Israeli towns and Jewish settlements in Gaza.

The latest attack occurred late Tuesday when a Hamas suicide bomber attacked an Israeli checkpoint near a settlement block in southern Gaza. The blast killed one agent from Israel's Shin Beit security service and injured three other agents and five soldiers.

Last week militants killed six Israelis in an attack at the Karni Crossing - the major commercial transit point between Gaza and Israel. That prompted Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to break off all contacts with the Palestinians and threaten major military action in Gaza unless Mahmoud Abbas takes action against the militants.

Mr. Abbas took office as Palestinian Authority president last Saturday and political analyst Nader Sa'id of Ramallah's Birzeit University says he is in a difficult position.

"Mr. Abbas is caught in the middle," he said. "If not given a true chance by the international community and by the state of Israel and by internal players, then he will be in a very awkward position."

Mr. Abbas has repeatedly called for an end to violence and promised Palestinians he would try to re-start peace negotiations with Israel. He has widespread international support, but is being urged to work quickly to curb violence.

Israeli officials have also indicated he is a man they could do business with, but they have also warned that unless Mr. Abbas manages to rein in the militants there will be no negotiations.

And, continued militant attacks since his election are widely seen as a challenge to his authority.

Mr. Abbas went to Gaza this week, where he has been meeting with militant leaders, including some from Hamas and Islamic Jihad. He wants to convince the armed groups to stop their attacks and instead join the political process. He is also reported to have given orders to his security chiefs to rein in the armed elements and establish law and order.