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Gunmen Release Kidnapped Spanish Aid Worker in Gaza Strip

  • VOA News

Palestinian security officials say gunmen have released a Spanish aid worker kidnapped earlier Monday in the Gaza Strip.

The security officials said Roberto Villa of the Cooperative Assembly for Peace, was released unharmed.

Witnesses said gunmen had forced Villa into a car in central Gaza.

The developments occurred as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Monday that Israel may soon expand its military offensive in Gaza.

Mr. Olmert told a parliamentary committee that a stepped up offensive to stop Palestinian militant attacks against Israel will not be a long-term operation.

Israel's parliament, meanwhile, approved the addition of an ultra-nationalist party to Mr. Olmert's governing coalition.

Avigdor Lieberman, head of the anti-Arab Yisrael Beitenu Party, was sworn in as minister for strategic affairs shortly after the vote. He has said he will focus on the threat Iran poses to Israel.


The move gives Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert a more stable, 78-seat majority in the 120-seat Israeli parliament.

But some members of Israel's left-leaning Labor party have objected to Lieberman. Labor voted to remain in the governing coalition. But one Cabinet member Culture Minister Ophir Pines-Paz resigned over Lieberman's inclusion.

Lieberman is controversial because he has called for excluding Israeli- Arab towns from Israel's final borders as part of a land swap with the Palestinians.

His party draws much of its support from the large Soviet immigrant community.

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