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Abbas Condemns Israeli Missile Attack - 2003-08-27

Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas has condemned Tuesday's Israeli helicopter missile strike that missed a Palestinian militant but killed one civilian and wounded more than 20 others in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian leader said there is no military solution to the Middle East conflict, adding that Israel's policy of killing militants will only escalate the violence.

The target of the attack was a vehicle carrying a Palestinian militant from Hamas. He and at least two others escaped before the missiles struck, but a 65-year-old man died when one of the missiles hit near his water pipe shop. Several children were wounded, including an eight-year-old boy who is now listed in critical condition.

Gaza residents say Israeli F-16 warplanes were also spotted circling overhead at the time of the missile attack.

The operation, near the Jabalya refugee camp, was the third of its kind in less than a week in Gaza. Just two days ago Israeli missiles killed four Hamas militants, and last Thursday, Israel also assassinated Hamas leader Ismail Abu Shanab in a missile strike in Gaza. The attacks follow a Hamas suicide bombing in Jerusalem that killed 21 Israelis.

Earlier Tuesday, an Israeli gunboat shelled an area north of Gaza City.

In response to the Israeli attacks, Hamas announced an end to a unilateral ceasefire and vowed revenge, saying that Israeli cities would be flowing with rivers of blood. Most of the Hamas leaders have gone into hiding, after Israel pledged to hunt them down, along with activists in the Islamic Jihad, another Palestinian group that has carried out numerous attacks on Israelis.

Prime Minister Abbas also criticized Israel Tuesday for allowing what he called "Jewish extremists" to visit a holy site in Jerusalem, saying such visits spark more violence.

The site - known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif - is where the current Palestinian uprising began nearly three years ago after a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who was then an opposition leader.