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Israelis Go to the Polls - 2003-01-28

Polls have opened in Israel, as 4.3 million eligible voters go to the polls to select a new parliament that will, in turn, choose a new government.

In the run-up to the vote public opinion polls show Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Likud Party the front runner set to win the largest number of seats in the 120-member parliament.

But Likud is not expected to win the 61 seats necessary to establish a clear majority. The opposition Labor Party is expected to come second, but has said it will not join Mr. Sharon in a coalition that will almost certainly be necessary to form a new government.

Palestinians say an Israeli missile attack has killed three people in Gaza City just hours before polls opened.

Witnesses say the missile struck a home belonging to a member of the militant Islamic group Hamas. Israeli military sources say helicopter gunships were in the area, but they say they do not know what caused the explosion. Earlier, Israeli troops killed two armed Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Israel banned all Palestinian travel in Gaza and the West Bank until after today's elections.