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Hamas Supporters Protest in Gaza Over Blockade


Thousands of supporters of the Palestinian militant group Hamas have gathered in the Gaza Strip, demanding an end to the Israeli blockade of the Hamas-controlled territory.

Friday's protest comes as the United Nations says it will not be able to make food deliveries Saturday to tens of thousands of refugees in Gaza unless it receives diesel fuel by that time.

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department says Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will travel to London, Israel and the West Bank next week to discuss the Middle East peace process.

A spokesman says she will meet in London with other members of the international quartet on Middle East peace - the U.S., Russia, the European Union and the United Nations.

The trip is expected to be her last to the region before President Bush goes there around the middle of next month.

In other news, Israel dismissed a six-month truce proposal from Hamas, hours after a Palestinian militant shot and killed two Israeli security guards at a factory near the West Bank town of Tulkarm.

Hamas and another militant group, Islamic Jihad, both claimed responsibility for the attack.

An Israeli government spokesman David Baker today suggested Hamas was only offering a cease-fire in order to recover and re-arm following recent fighting.

Hamas officials told Egyptian mediators Thursday they would agree to a six-month truce in Gaza, followed by a truce in the West Bank. In exchange, Israel was to cease military action and lift its blockade of Gaza.

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

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