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Palestinian security forces clash

Clash kills 2 in Rafah; fire at government building in Ramallah
Fatah supporters protest outside the building where lawmakers convened in Ramallah.




JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Palestinian security forces were on high alert Monday after Palestinian Authority and Hamas security forces clashed in Rafah, resulting in two deaths.

Hamas forces also fired shots at a government building in Rafah.

In response, Fatah supporters set fire to a building used by the Hamas-led government in Ramallah. That fire was later brought under control.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas put the forces on high alert and deployed security forces around ministries in Ramallah to protect them.

Abbas is in Gaza for meetings with Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and other officials on Abbas' proposal to hold a referendum that would implicitly recognize Israel's right to exist.

Hamas refused to support the plan, drawn up by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. The Hamas charter calls for Israel's destruction.

Abbas has called for the nonbinding referendum to be held on July 26. The proposal calls for a two-state solution, with the Palestinian state made up of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem within the borders that existed before the 1967 war with Israel.

Among the prisoners who drafted the plan backed by Abbas are Fatah secretary-general Marwan Barghouti and Abdel Halek Natshe of Hamas.

The Hamas-dominated Palestinian parliament met to consider a proposal to void the referendum, but put off action to allow more negotiations between Abbas and Hamas.

The tensions turned violent earlier in the day in Rafah during a funeral for a Hamas member. When Hamas special forces clashed with Palestinian Authority security forces, a civilian and a Hamas gunman were killed.

Abbas and Haniyeh also met on Sunday. Afterward, Palestinian Interior Minister Said Sayam, a member of Hamas, said Monday's session with Abbas would also include representatives from Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian Popular Front in an effort to end factional strife between the two main Palestinian parties.

Abbas, a member of the late President Yasser Arafat's Fatah Party, has been largely hamstrung in his efforts to wield power since Hamas took control of the Parliament in elections in January.

The focus of the meetings was to find ways for Hamas and Fatah to cooperate, Sayam said.

During their Sunday discussion, no agreement was reached on Abbas' referendum proposal.

Taysser Khaled, a representative of the Palestinian Democratic Front, told reporters Abbas and Haniyeh discussed Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's plan to include parts of the West Bank within Israel's permanent borders.

Hamas, which the United States and European Union list as a terrorist organization, has refused to meet Western demands to renounce violence and recognize the Jewish state's right to exist.

The United States, European Union and Israel have cut direct funding to the Hamas-led government that assumed power March 30, although humanitarian aid is to be donated through nongovernmental organizations.

More rockets land in Israel

Five Qassam rockets landed on the Israeli side of the Gaza border Monday morning, causing no injuries or significant damage, the Israel Defense Forces said.

The Monday launches followed a series of at least 70 rockets fired into Israel from Gaza since Friday, wounding four Israeli civilians, the Israeli forces said.

Two rockets landed near the security fence separating Gaza from Israel and three others landed near an Israeli community, the IDF said.

On Saturday, Hamas' military wing, Izzedine al Qassam, said it had resumed rocket strikes against Israel after a hiatus of more than a year.

That announcement came in the wake of an artillery shell blast that killed eight Palestinians as they picnicked on a beach in northern Gaza on Friday.

The incident sparked international outrage after news programs broadcast footage of a hysterical 7-year-old girl who survived the attack, which killed her family members.

CNN's Michael Zippori contributed to this report.

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