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At Least 80 Palestinians Killed, Israel to Continue Offensive in Gaza

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says Israel will expand its offensive against militants in the Gaza Strip - an operation that has killed at least 80 Palestinian militants and civilians since Wednesday.

At the start of his weekly Cabinet meeting Sunday, Mr. Olmert rejected international criticism that Israel was using excessive force in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has described the Israeli actions in Gaza as a "holocaust," said today that any peace negotiations with Israel have been suspended.

Israel has carried out strikes in Gaza after an Israeli was killed by a rocket fired from the Palestinian territory Wednesday. Numerous rockets have since landed in Israel.

Thousands of Palestinians protesters rallied in the streets of Gaza Sunday, demanding an end to the Israeli attacks, and for Palestinian factions to unite to help bring an end to the violence.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Saturday he recognized Israel's right to defend itself, but he condemned what he called "the disproportionate and excessive used of force."

He also condemned Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel and called for the immediate cessation of what he called acts of terrorism.

The U.N. Security Council held an emergency session that ended early Sunday with a statement condemning the escalation of violence.

Violence continued in northern Gaza early Sunday as Israeli warplanes destroyed the offices of the Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is heading to the Middle East Monday.

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