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Palestinians Denounce US Veto of UN Resolution on Hamas Leader - 2004-03-26

Palestinians are denouncing the U.S. veto of a U.N. Security Council resolution that condemned Israel's killing of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

Palestinian cabinet minister Saeb Erekat said the United States' veto Thursday, will encourage Israel "to continue the path of violence, escalation, assassination and reoccupation."

Thousands of angry Palestinians demonstrated after Friday prayers in the West Bank towns of Ramallah and Nablus, vowing revenge for the killing of Sheikh Yassin and the U.S. action at the Security Council. Large crowds of demonstrators also protested in Baghdad, Tehran, Cairo and other cities throughout the region, denouncing Israel and the United States.

Explaining its vote, the United States said it was "deeply troubled" by Israel's killing of the Hamas leader, but vetoed the resolution because it did not specifically condemn terrorism committed by the Palestinian militant group.

Hamas has vowed revenge against Israel. The group claimed responsibility for an overnight attack by militants who swam to a beachfront Jewish settlement in Gaza and opened fire. Israeli troops killed two attackers.

On the West Bank, a Palestinian militant was killed when a car exploded in a refugee camp near the city of Nablus. Security officials said the victim was a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. In Bethlehem, Israeli police shot and killed a Palestinian during a brief clash with several stone-throwing protesters.