Saturday, February 07, 2009
15:36 Mecca time, 12:36 GMT      
News Middle East
Israeli air raids hit Gaza

Palestinian fighters fired two rockets into southern Israel before the air 
raids [AFP]

Israel has launched several air raids against targets in southern Gaza near the 
border with Egypt, causing damage but no injuries, Palestinian security sources 

The attacks targeted "open areas" near the town of Rafah and tunnels along the 
border with Egypt, residents said.

An Israeli military spokesman confirmed that the "Israeli air force intervened 
in the Gaza Strip" late on Friday.

"Our planes attacked four tunnels that were dug under the border with Egypt and 
used for weapons smuggling," the spokesman told the AFP news agency.

"An arms depot was also targeted and the explosives that were stocked there 
exploded," he said.

The raids came hours after Palestinian fighters fired two rockets at southern 
Israel without causing damage or deaths, according to a military spokesman.

Shalit talks fail

The Israeli raids came after reports that indirect talks between Israel and 
Hamas over a prisoner swap to free Gilad Shalit, a captured Israeli soldier, 
had failed.

Shalit was captured by Gaza groups in a 2006 cross-border raid.

Osama al-Muzaini, a Hamas official who is involved in the negotiations, said on 
Friday that the talks had shown little progress and that any claims by Israel 
that progress had been made were "election-motivated".

"There has been no progress in the [Shalit] file for several months and that is 
because [Israel] remained unwilling to pay the price," he told the Reuters news 

Israeli report

Muzini was responding to a report published on the website of Israel's Haaretz 
newspaper quoting unnamed Israeli officials as saying significant progress had 
been made in truce talks and Shalif's freedom.

Muzaini did not mention where the talks had been held or who led the mediation.

Hamas has demanded the release of 1,400 prisoners in exchange for Shalit.

Muzaini said Israel had only agreed to 71 names from the list of 450 
long-serving prisoners Hamas had proposed more than a year ago.
 Source:     Agencies

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