Palestinian security forces to disarm militants to halt attacks on Israelis

Palestinian President &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Mahmoud Abbas met Hamas leaders for three hours in Gaza on Tuesday in the shadow of a suicide bombing that underscored the Islamic group's opposition to his call for militants to halt attacks on Israel.

An agent of Israel's Shin Bet security service was killed and seven other Israelis were wounded in the blast at any army checkpoint near the Gush Katif bloc of &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Jewish settlements in Gaza.

Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack by a 21-year-old bomber, who witnesses said detonated his explosives during an identity check by Israeli security personnel. Two Palestinians were also wounded, informs Reuters.

According to the Daily Times, Israel will give new Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas a "limited" amount of time to allow him to crack down on militant groups, a source close to Israeli Prime Minister &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Ariel Sharon told AFP on Tuesday.

"We are according Abu Mazen (Abbas) a limited delay to let him decide whether to fight against terrorism," the source said on condition of anonymity.

"If he does not change the rules of the game, then the Palestinians will pay an enormous price." Abbas gave orders on Monday to his security services to prevent attacks by militant groups such as Hamas and is due to hold talks in Gaza City on Wednesday with leaders of the factions in order to persuade them to agree to a new ceasefire.

In the West Bank, a leader of al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militant group in Abbas's Fatah faction, pledged to halt attacks inside Israel but said it would continue to strike at Israelis in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

"We agree to suspend all military action inside Israel ... in order to support Abbas's political programme," said Zachariya Zubeidi, the most prominent West Bank leader in the brigades.

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