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Violating truce, Israeli troops kill Palestinian

GAZA: Israeli troops at the Gaza border shot dead a Palestinian man and wounded 15 more yesterday, health officials said, in the first fatality since a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel.
A Hamas spokesman accused Israel of violating the Egyptian-mediated truce and said the group would complain to Cairo.
Health officials said Anwar Qdeih, 23, was hit in the head by Israeli gunfire after he approached the security fence that runs between Israel and Gaza.
“Anwar was trying to put a Hamas flag on the fence,” said Omar Qdeih, a relative of the man killed who was at the scene. “The army fired three times into the air. Anwar shouted at them ‘Jabari is behind you’, then they shot him in the head,” he said.
Discontent over the cease-fire that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu struck has cost him support before an election in January but he should still win the ballot, a poll showed yesterday.
The survey by Israel’s Maariv newspaper, the first since the truce took hold, said the newly merged party of Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Likud Beitenu, would take 37 of the 120 parliamentary seats up for grabs on Jan. 22. A poll taken before the eight-day conflict suggested they would win 43 seats.
It said that 31 percent of Israelis approved of the cease-fire while 49 percent were opposed. Asked if the army should have re-occupied Gaza, 41 percent were against and 29 percent in favor. A Palestinian envoy said that he hoped China would play a greater role in supporting his people in the conflict as a counterweight to the United States’ influence over the peace process.
Bassam Al-Salhi said in Beijing following a meeting with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi that China said it backed the Palestinians in the Gaza conflict and in their bid to upgrade their status at the UN. He said Beijing was giving them $1 million in aid.
But Al-Salhi said Beijing could still do more for the Palestinians.
“We think that China should, can take more (of a) role in the area, to support ending the occupation and have the peace process more balanced, because we think the Israelis are using all the time the position of the United States, which is supporting the Israelis,” he said.
Russia yesterday said the Middle East Quartet is an “insufficient” format for long-term resolution of the conflict, calling on the body to work together with the Arab League.
The Quartet seeking peace in the Middle East is made up of the European Union, Russia, the UN and the US. It has had little success in its efforts to renew direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov however indicated that the format of the Quartet needed to be changed, advising it to work together with Arab nations.
“We have said at the Quartet’s meetings that this format is insufficient for effectively looking into today’s problems and working out viable proposals and agreements,” Lavrov told reporters.

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