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Spanish Judge Goes Forward With Israeli Probe

A Spanish judge says he will move forward with a probe of top Israeli military commanders linked to a 2002 Israeli bombing that killed 15 people in the Gaza Strip.

National Court Judge Fernando Andreu announced his decision Monday, after rejecting assertions from prosecutors that the bombing was already under investigation in Israel. The judge said he could find no evidence of an Israeli probe.

Palestinian militant Salah Shehade, who headed the military wing of Hamas, died in the bombing along with 14 civilians, nine of them children in the Palestinian territory.

Spain assumes universal jurisdiction over such allegations of criminal activity, and it began its investigation in January.

Meanwhile, new Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has begun a four-nation tour of Europe aimed at easing European concerns about Israeli policy toward the Palestinians.

Lieberman, head of a far-right party, is spending two days in Italy, before visiting France, Germany and the Czech Republic.

Separately, United Nations investigators in Geneva are preparing for a fact-finding mission into Israel's three-week military sweep into Gaza that ended in January.

At least 1,300 Palestinians, including 300 children, were killed in the offensive, launched by Israel to stop Hamas rocket fire into border areas of southern Israel.

Israel had rejected two earlier U.N. probes, including a Gaza investigation that was to have been led by South African Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

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