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Palestinians Shave Their Heads in Show of Solidarity

A group of prominent Palestinians in the West Bank city of Ramallah shaved their heads in public on Wednesday in a show of solidarity with a Fatah official.

On Monday, Fatah said Hamas forces briefly detained one of Fatah's top leaders in Gaza, Ibrahim Abu al-Naja and shaved off his mustache in an effort to humiliate him. The Associated Press reports that Hamas denied involvement in the incident.

Tensions between Hamas and the Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have been high since Hamas seized control of Gaza in mid-June.

Earlier Wednesday, Israeli forces killed seven Palestinian militants in pre-dawn fighting in the Gaza Strip.

Israel's military says it carried out an air and ground attack after militants fired anti-tank missiles at Israeli troops in the area.

Israel's defense minister, Ehud Barak, says such raids are having an impact, even though rocket attacks continue.

He says Israel has no plans to launch a large-scale military operation in the Hamas-controlled territory.

Meanwhile, reports say U.S. President George Bush is likely to have a three-way meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas when he visits Jerusalem next week.

Mr. Bush begins a three-day trip to Israel and the West Bank on January 9 to encourage Middle East peace talks that were relaunched in November at a U.S.-hosted conference.

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