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Palestinian Policemen From Fatah, Hamas Deploy Jointly in Gaza

Palestinian security forces have begun deploying in the Gaza Strip under a cabinet-approved security plan that rival Hamas and Fatah factions hope will curb internal violence and bolster a coalition government.

Troops from the two factions - who until recently had been fighting each other - began fanning out together in Gaza City late Wednesday.

The deployment comes after Fatah leader, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas agreed to a security plan, following a series of meetings.

Full details of the plan are not known.

But a senior Fatah official, Nabil Shaath, is quoted as saying the former rival policemen will have the same uniform and will take orders from the Interior Ministry now controlled by a political independent.

The control of security forces had been a main dispute between Fatah and Hamas factions, and previous deployments of police in Gaza could not fully secure the territory.

Earlier this year, the two factions agreed to share power in a national unity government and appoint independents to key ministries, hoping to put an end to spiraling chaos and violence in Gaza.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.