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UPDATED: 07:46, October 19, 2006
Hamas government urges int'l community to stop Israeli offensive on Gaza
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The Palestinian government led by the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) Wednesday urged the international community to take practical moves to stop the Israeli military escalation in the Gaza Strip.

"The Palestinian government strongly condemns the Israeli crimes in the Palestinian territories and calls on the international community and the UN to stop the Israeli aggression and protect Palestinian civilians," Hamas government spokesman Ghazi Hamad said in a statement.

Hamas government's appeal came after Israel threatened to expand the military operation in southern Gaza Strip border town of Rafah, where two Palestinian militants have been killed in the ongoing Israeli incursion.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Wednesday that the incursion into Rafah was the biggest operation in Gaza Strip since Israel's major withdrawal in late 2005.

Moreover, the report quoted Israeli army officials as saying that the Israeli army is planning to expand the operation to the Gaza-Egypt border to look for more tunnels which Israel says used by the Palestinians to smuggle weapons into Gaza.

The ongoing Israeli incursion in Gaza was believed to be an action aimed at preventing Hamas government's Interior Minister Said Siam, who is in a visit to Iran and Syria, from returning home.

Source: Xinhua

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