WASHINGTON (AFP) – US officials reminded Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas of his responsibility to maintain order in the Gaza strip following the assassination of a top security official.
Mussa Arafat, a military advisor to Abbas and a cousin of the late Yasser Arafat, was shot dead by militant gunmen at his home in Gaza City on Wednesday.
Abbas vowed the crime "will not hinder efforts to impose order and the rule of law."
With Palestinian security on a state of alert, the interior ministry recognised the assassination as a a "serious escalation in the security situation".
Abbas also cancelled plans to travel to New York over the weekend to attend the UN General Assembly due to worsening security and Israel”s announcement it is speeding up its military pullout from the territory.
Washington welcomed Abbas”s comments on bringing "those responsible for these attacks to justice and to dismantle terrorist infrastructure inside Palestinian territories," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.
"It”s the responsibility of any governing authority, any government, to provide a safe, secure environment where people can realize a better life for themselves. And this is also a responsibility of the Palestinian Authority.
"What we would urge is that every effort be made by the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, in particular during this time of withdrawal, to maintain an atmosphere of calm and free from violence and certainly from terrorist acts," McCormack said.
Youths have also been battling Palestinian security forces for three days in southern Gaza.
The mounting tensions raise serious questions over whether calm will prevail after the last Israeli soldier quits Gaza.
Alarmed, Israel”s top brass want remaining troops pulled out of Gaza immediately, ahead of a planned departure by September 15, fearing a conflict with young mobs could wash away the gains of the pullout.