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Israeli Planes Fire on Palestinian Interior Ministry


Israeli military planes have fired on the Palestinian Interior Ministry building as part of a campaign to pressure Palestinian militants to release a captured Israeli soldier.

The military continued air strikes on Gaza Friday, but it said it was delaying a planned ground invasion of the northern Gaza Strip at the request of Egypt. Egypt has been working to secure the soldier's release.

Egypt's president, Hosni Mubarak, said Thursday Hamas agreed to a conditional release of the Israeli soldier. However, Mr. Mubarak said in published remarks in Egypt's Al-Ahram newspaper that Israel has not yet agreed to the terms of the release

Israel has not commented on Mr. Mubarak's statement, but has said it wants the soldier released without conditions.

Meanwhile, the U.N. aid chief, Jan Egeland said civilians in Gaza are facing a humanitarian crisis unless power is restored to the territory. Israel bombed Gaza's main power plant on Thursday.

Also Thursday, Israeli forces took into custody more than 60 members of the Palestinians' ruling Hamas party, including seven government ministers, in the West Bank.

Israeli spokesman Ra'anan Gissen says his country holds the Hamas government responsible for the kidnapping of the Israeli soldier on Sunday. Israeli media say the detained Hamas officials might be swapped for the soldier.

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