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Mortar Round Explodes Near Israeli Anti-Pullout Protest

Israeli soldiers stand guard as a group of Jewish settlers and opponents of Israel's planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip march along a road
The Israeli army says a mortar shell fired by Palestinian militants has struck a Jewish settlement in Gaza, near a crowd of Israelis protesting Israel's planned withdrawal from the territory later this year.

The army says a soldier was lightly wounded by shrapnel from the blast.

Organizers had expected some 100,000 people to express their support for Gaza's Jewish settlers, but by mid-afternoon police said some 20,000 people had arrived.

Jewish settlers have been holding large protest rallies in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv since Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced the planned withdrawal from the entire Gaza Strip and four small settlements in the West Bank.

Mr. Sharon argues the pull-out will enhance Israel's security and provide an opportunity to maintain control over large settlement blocs in the West Bank.

Some information for this report provided by AP.