Eight Palestinian unity government ministers are to travel to Gaza from its West Bank base tomorrow for only the second time since its formation in June, a minister has said.

The government was the result of an April reconciliation deal between the Islamist Hamas movement and the Fatah organisation of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.

But Mr Abbas has repeatedly complained that Hamas has prevented it asserting its authority in Gaza, where the Islamists have been dominant since ousting Fatah loyalists in 2007.

The eight ministers are travelling to Gaza to "carry out their duties", labour minister Mamun Abu Shahla said.

He said security concerns sparked by a spate of bombings targeting the property of Fatah officials in Gaza early last month had prevented them from doing so sooner.

Abu Shahla said that prime minister Rami Hamdallah, who cancelled a planned visit to Gaza in the wake of the bombings, would not accompany the ministers.

"His duties have kept him in Ramallah where he is continuing talks with an Arab state which is soon going to disburse a large sum for the reconstruction of Gaza," the minister said.

He did not specify which country was offering the aid to rebuild the territory, which was devastated by the 50-day summer war between Israel and Hamas.

More than 2,100 Palestinians were killed during the July-August war, mostly civilians, and 73 on the Israeli side, most of them soldiers.

The eight ministers who are travelling to Gaza from the West Bank town of Ramallah are the ministers of health, education, social affairs and local government, and the heads of the water, power and environment agencies, who have ministerial rank.

The unity government has only met once in Gaza - on 9 October ahead of a major donors' conference for the territory.

Before its formation in June, Hamas and Fatah led rival administrations in Gaza and the West Bank.

Hamas prevents orphans visiting Israel

Meanwhile, Hamas prevented dozens of children orphaned during the summer war from entering Israeli territory as part of a pre-arranged trip today, organisers and officials said.

The week-long visit was planned for 37 children whose parents were killed by Israel in July and August this year. It was organised by an Israeli kibbutz group and local Arab-Israeli officials.

Kibbutz Movement spokesman Yoel Marshak told AFP that the trip was supposed to allow the Palestinian children, aged between 12 and 15, "to circulate and learn about Israeli children their age".

The group had been due to visit several Israeli kibbutzim close to the Gaza Strip and travel to Ramallah in the occupied West Bank to meet Mr Abbas, Mr Marshak said.

"The Shin Bet [security service] had given the green light for the children and their five minders to enter Israel," he added.

But Hamas, which has controlled Gaza since 2007, said the trip was cancelled as the children would have "had to visit settlements and occupied towns".

The Islamist movement's interior ministry said the visit was forbidden in order to protect the children from "the politics of normalisation" with Israel.

An AFP photographer saw Hamas security officers turn the 37 orphans away from the Erez border crossing with Israel.

More than 2,100 Palestinians were killed during the July-August war, mostly civilians, and 73 on the Israeli side, most of them soldiers.