The Hamas decided Friday morning to withdraw its special police forces from tension areas where clashes with the official Palestinian security forces have been taking place in recent days.
Hamas gunmen in Gaza. Dozens hurt in infighting (Photo: AFP)
The decision was taken by Interior Minister Said Siam, who is currently in Damascus, and commander of the group's special police, Yousef al-Zahar, after at least 10 Palestinians have been injured in fighting between the rivaling sides Thursday.
Minister Siam informed the force's members that they are to move away from areas where Palestinian security officers operate, and deploy at regions where there is no official security presence, mainly around the headquarters used by the new force.
Interior Ministry sources told Ynet that although no formal decision has been made to suspend the unit's operations, Hamas intends to prevent further friction with Fatah that they believe plays into the hands of Israel and the government's opponents.
Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip reported an especially poor turnout of the special police in the streets Friday morning.
Prime minister and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said on Thursday that the Palestinian government is set to complete in the coming weeks the process of integrating the new force into the existing Palestinian Authority police.
Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and other Fatah officials have also stated that there was nothing preventing Hamas' force from becoming a part of the Palestinian police.
It appears that the interior minister's decision is aimed at signaling that the Hamas government wishes to contribute to the easing of tensions in the PA.