Monday, February 16, 2009
13:27 Mecca time, 10:27 GMT      
News Middle East
Israeli shelling kills Palestinian
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are struggling to cope
in the aftermath of Israel's offensive [AFP]

One person has been killed and five others injured after Israel shelled a 
target in the north of the Gaza Strip.

An Israeli spokesman said on Monday that the army had "no knowledge" of the 

"We have no knowledge of any firing by the Israeli army but we are looking into 
it," the spokesman was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying.

Muawiya Hussanein, the head of Gaza emergency services, named the man killed in 
the attack as Rajab Sobeh.

The attack followed the firing of two rockets from the northern Gaza Strip into 
southern Israel early on Monday by Palestinian fighter.

The rockets exploded without causing any casualties, an Israeli army 
spokesperson said.

One of the rockets hit a farm, causing slight damage, while the other struck 

The attacks are the latest between the two sides following a ceasefire declared 
on January 18, after Israel's three-week offensive in the Gaza Strip in which 
more than 1,300 Palestinians were killed.

Ongoing talks

Talks, brokered by Egypt, are ongoing to establish a lasting truce between 
Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip and Israel, and opening Gaza's borders 
to allow humanitarian supplies into the territory.

Shalit has been called a 'top priority' in negotiations by Israel [EPA]
But Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, said on Saturday that no deal will 
be struck until Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian 
fighters in 2006, is released.

Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, has said that Shalit's release had never 
previously been a factor in the truce discussions. They were rather part of 
separate negotiations on a prisoner exchange.

Mark Regev, an Israeli government spokesman, told Al Jazeera: "Shalit has 
always been a top priority for us. We want him out."

"We understand that there will be a price to be paid - that Hamas will want 
some of its terrorists out of jails. And I think that we are ready to pay such 
a price," Regev said.

"But the deal is not done ... There is only one result here and that is that 
our serviceman is released. Everything else is unacceptable," he said.

Election influence

Mike Hana, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Gaza, said that Israeli elections last 
week has altered the negotiations as the demands of a right-wing majority 
coalition, which is likely to take power in the coming weeks, now has to be 
considered in the talks.

"The goalposts have moved. That is the general situation and belief here in 
Gaza," Hana said. 

"I spoke to a very senior Hamas official, he said that as far as they was 
concerned a series of agreements had been reached, through the Egyptian 
intermediaries, with the Israelis concerning the opening of the crossings, 
concerning who exactly should police the crossings with regard to Rafah [on the 
Egyptian border] ... and a long lasting truce," he said.

"In the last 48-hours Gilad Shalit ... has suddenly come up on the negotiating 

"That had been part of a totally different set of negotiations for a long 
period of time. It has suddenly come up as a central part of the negotiations 
concerning the truce."
 Source:     Al Jazeera and agencies

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