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Bush Mideast Visit Stirs Tension


Thousands of Palestinian hard-liners in the Gaza Strip have staged protests against U.S. President George Bush, as the president visits Israel.

Supporters of the militant group, Hamas, chanted "Death to America" and burned U.S. and Israeli flags. Others brandished signs depicting Mr. Bush as a vampire drinking Muslim blood.

Hamas refuses to recognize Israel, and has vowed to undermine Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas's efforts to make peace with the Jewish state. Mr. Bush is scheduled to meet Mr. Abbas Thursday in the West Bank.

A new Islamic group has appeared for the first time in Gaza to coincide with President Bush's arrival in the Middle East. About 20 members of the previously unknown "Army of the Nation" brandished weapons at a news conference. They said Mr. Bush is not welcome in the Palestinian territories.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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