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Israeli Defense Chief Says Hamas Must Release Soldier Before Gaza Truce


Israel's defense minister has repeated a demand for the Palestinian militant group Hamas to release an Israeli soldier before reaching a truce in the Gaza Strip.

Ehud Barak made the comment Monday in Egypt after meeting with President Hosni Mubarak.

Israel has repeatedly called for the captured soldier, Gilad Shalit, to be freed as part of any deal with Hamas. The group has said a ceasefire and a release of the soldier should remain separate issues.

Egypt has been trying to broker an end to attacks by Gaza militants on Israel and a lifting of Israel's blockade of the Hamas-run territory.

In another development, Israel's military says troops shot and killed a would-be suicide bomber at a West Bank checkpoint Monday. The military says the soldiers opened fire after a Palestinian approached the checkpoint and tried to detonate a suicide belt.

Palestinians say the person killed was a teenager. The incident happened near Nablus.

Meanwhile, a Hamas delegation led by former Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmud Zahar arrived in Egypt Monday. The Hamas officials will hold their own meetings with Egypt's government about a possible ceasefire with Israel.

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

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