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Israel Strikes Palestinian PM's Office
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An Israeli helicopter fired a missile into the empty office of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh Sunday, in an attack that punctuated threats to target the Hamas leadership unless an abducted soldier is freed.


The air strike was part of a military offensive in the Gaza Strip that has been coupled with statements from Israeli leaders that no one in the Hamas-led government should believe he is immune from attack.


"We will strike anyone who harms the citizens of Israel. No one will go unpunished," Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told his cabinet in broadcast remarks, without mentioning Haniyeh.


Haniyeh was not in the office at the time of the strike, witnesses said. He arrived quickly to survey the damage, finding shattered furniture and windows, and a portrait of late President Yasser Arafat blown off the wall.


"This is the policy of the jungle and arrogance," Haniyeh said. "Nothing will affect our spirit and nothing will affect our steadfastness."


One Hamas member was killed in a second attack on an office used by forces loyal to the Islamic group, whose charter calls for Israel's destruction. A third strike hit a Hamas school, but there were no casualties.


Israel, which pulled out of the Gaza Strip last year, sent troops and tanks into the south of the territory on Wednesday after Palestinian gunmen, some from the armed wing of Hamas, seized Corporal Gilad Shalit in a cross-border raid a week ago.


Nabil Abu Rdainah, an adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said diplomatic efforts spearheaded by Egypt to win the soldier's release were continuing, "but they have produced no results so far and we are near deadlock." A Palestinian official quoted mediators as saying 19-year-old Shalit was alive after being treated for wounds.


Setting the stage for tougher military action, Olmert ordered the armed forces "to make sure no one sleeps at night in Gaza," Israeli Interior Minister Roni Bar-On told Israel Radio.


(China Daily July 3, 2006)


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