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Israel Rejects UN Probe into Deadly Gaza Artillery Strike


Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the Cabinet that the UN General Assembly should be blaming Palestinian militants for the continuing bloodshed in Gaza and not Israel.

He rejected the resolution's call for a UN probe into the errant artillery strike that caused carnage in a crowded Gaza neighborhood.

Mr. Olmert said, "It is not the State of Israel that should be answering questions about the harming of civilians," especially after it expressed deep regret over the incident. He said Palestinians firing rockets at Israel were to blame.

About the same time as the Cabinet was meeting, several more rockets were fired at the hard-hit Israeli border town of Sderot. Last week, a woman there was killed in a rocket attack.

Since then, Israeli hawks have called for a major offensive in Gaza to stop the rocket fire, but Mr. Olmert rejected that, saying the problem cannot be resolved in one swoop. Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar says there is only one way for Israel to stop the rockets:

"Stop all the military aggression against the Palestinian people."

Israel planned to bomb the homes of two militant leaders in Gaza, but the air strike was called off when hundreds of Palestinians crowded around the buildings.

Israel had issued a warning to evacuate the homes to avoid civilian casualties, but in a new tactic that proved effective, Palestinians came out and formed human shields. The defiant crowd shouted, "Death to Israel!" and "Death to America!"

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