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US pledges aid to Palestinian refugees
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The United States will contribute 85 million dollars to Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza Strip over the next year, the State Department announced on Tuesday.

"The United States announces its plan to contribute 85 million to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) for its 2009 appeals," the State Department said in a statement.

Of the whole aid package, 60 million dollars are going to its general fund, and the remaining 25 million will make up an emergency fund, according to the statement.

The emergency fund will be used to help Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank "receive urgently needed food, medicines, and other critical humanitarian assistance."

Washington made the aid pledge when Israel's airstrikes against Hamas in Gaza entered the fourth day.

"We hold Hamas fully responsible for breaking the ceasefire and for the renewal of violence," the State Department said.

In its reprisal strikes, Israeli warplanes have been bombing Hamas targets in Gaza since Saturday, killing some 360 Palestinians and wounding more than 1,000 in the Gaza Strip.

The latest violence broke out after a six-month ceasefire between Israel and Gaza militants which ended on Dec. 19, as Hamas refused to renew it and kept firing rockets into Israel.

(Xinhua News Agency December 31, 2008)

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