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Israel rejects Palestinian militants' demands

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Israel rejects Palestinian militants' demands


Israel has rejected a series of demands from Palestinian militants who are holding an Israeli soldier. Three groups, including the armed wing of Hamas, have called on Israel to release 1,000 prisoners and end its offensive in Gaza in return for the release of 19-year-old Corporal Gilad Shalit.

Meanwhile, Israeli police say claims by the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades that it is holding another soldier are false. The group named an individual but he is apparently safe and well and on holiday abroad. Israel is holding off on a ground assault to rescue Shalit to give Egyptian mediation efforts a chance. But the latest demand has undermined hopes of a breakthrough.

The Palestinians have urged the UN Security Council to press Israel to quickly end its airstrikes on Gaza. Israel, for its part, insisted at an emergency session that its military action was limited to a small part of southern Gaza and intended to prevent the kidnapped soldier from being smuggled out of the area.

The US said Syria and Iran must first end their role as what it called “state sponsors of terror” and condemn Hamas militants. The crisis has sent Israeli-Palestinian relations to a new low and piled more pressure on the Hamas Islamist government.

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