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Palestinians Vow To Avenge Israel's Killing Of Rantisi - 2004-04-19


Palestinians have vowed to avenge Israel's killing of the head of the militant group Hamas.

Tens of thousands of angry Palestinians gathered in Gaza City(Sunday) to mourn the death of Abdel Aziz Rantisi, who was killed in an Israeli air strike Saturday. He assumed the leadership of Hamas last month, after another Israeli strike killed the group's co-founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

But Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has warned of a broad plan to capture or kill all Hamas leaders.

Hamas says it has already chosen a new leader, whose identity, it says, will remain secret for fear of another Israeli attack.

In other developments, Israeli Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Limor Livnat say they will support Mr. Sharon's plan to withdraw Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank.

The announcement comes two weeks ahead of a vote on the withdrawal measure by Israel's ruling Likud party. If endorsed May second, the measure then must be approved by the Sharon cabinet and separately by the full Israeli parliament.

President Bush endorsed the Israeli plan last week. Palestinian leaders say the pullout plan hides Israeli intentions to annex parts of the West Bank.

Information for this report is provided by AFP and Reuters.

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