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Palestinian President Abbas Suspends Peace Talks With Israel

  • VOA News

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has suspended Mideast peace talks to protest Israel's military offensive against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian medics say Israeli air and ground raids in Gaza killed at least six Palestinians Sunday, including a 21-month old girl. Israeli warplanes also destroyed the offices of the Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh.

Israel's military says it is targeting militants responsible for near-daily rocket attacks on Israeli towns. At least 25 rockets hit southern Israel today, wounding four people, one of them in Ashkelon.

Palestinian militants began targeting the Israeli city of 120-thousand people with longer-range rockets this past week.

A White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe called today for an end to the violence and a return to talks.

The Israeli offensive killed at least 54 Palestinians Saturday in Gaza, about half of them militants and the rest civilians. Two Israeli soldiers were also killed.

It was the deadliest day for the Palestinians since their uprising began in 2000.

Egyptian authorities allowed several wounded Gazans to cross into Egypt today to seek medical treatment.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Sunday that striking at Hamas strengthens peace efforts by weakening militants who oppose Mr. Abbas' moderate government.

Slovenia, which holds the EU's rotating presidency, condemned what it calls Israel's "disproportionate use of force" against Palestinians. Slovenia also condemned the continued firing of rockets into Israel and called the immediate end of such attacks.

Thousands of Palestinians joined rallies in the West Bank and east Jerusalem against the Israeli offensive. Witnesses say Israeli troops shot and killed a 14-year old boy in confrontations with stone-throwing protesters near Hebron.

Anti-Israel protests also were held in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, Syria's capital, Damascus, and along Lebanon's southern border with Israel.

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