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Hamas Committed to Truce With Israel

A Palestinian man checks the damage of an abandoned house that was destroyed during an Israeli air strike overnight in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, 21 Dec 2010

A top Hamas leader says his Palestinian militant group remains committed to its truce with Israel, despite an increase in rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip.

Mahmoud Zahar made the remark Friday to a gathering in the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunis.

In recent days, Israeli warplanes have carried out multiple air strikes on Gaza, and Hamas has fired rockets and mortars into southern Israel.

One of the air strikes killed five Palestinian militants, the highest death toll since Israel's Gaza offensive two years ago. Israeli officials said they carried out the attack after at least 13 mortar rounds were fired from Gaza into Israel.

Israel and Hamas agreed to a truce following Israel's Gaza offensive.

In other news, thousands of demonstrators gathered in Jerusalem to protest a renewal of a Jewish settlement freeze in the West Bank or East Jerusalem.

The protesters, who rallied late Thursday, also voiced support for a letter signed by dozens of Israeli rabbis this month that would forbid the rental of homes to non-Jews.

Tensions are on the rise between Israelis and Palestinians about settlement construction, a key issue in U.S.-mediated peace talks between the two sides.

Direct talks between the two sides broke down after an Israeli freeze on West Bank settlement-building expired in September. Palestinians oppose construction on land they want as part of a future state.

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