ahmed tibi solemn 298.
(photo credit: Ori Porat)
The Palestinian government called a special meeting Wednesday to discuss IDF operations taking place in Beit Hanoun, in which ten Palestinian gunmen have been killed and over 60 wounded so far.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the IDF's activities, calling them a "massacre" and an "abominable crime." He called on Israel to immediately halt all hostile activities against the Palestinian people.
According to Israel Radio, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh also called a press conference in Gaza and said that the IDF "massacre" was the first product of Israel Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman's entry into the government.
Haniyeh added that he hoped the military escalation in northern Gaza would not impact talks that were underway in Cairo for the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit, which he said seemed to be making progress.
Meanwhile, Israel Radio also reported that United Arab List MK Ahmed Tibi, who met earlier Wednesday with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit to discuss Shalit's release, said there was still a certain gap between Israel and Hamas over the issue.
Tibi added that a deal for Shalit's freedom was close but would take time.
Regarding the IDF activities in Gaza, Tibi said civilians were dying as a result of the IDF aggression, and that Israel was trying to reclaim the powers of deterrence it lost in the Lebanon war at the Palestinians' expense.
On Tuesday, a Hamas delegation from Damascus arrived in Cairo for prisoner exchange talks with Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman. They were joined by US Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte.
According to Israel Radio, Osama Hamdan, a Hamas representative in Lebanon, told Al Jazeera that Israel had agreed on principle to a prisoner swap, but neither the number nor the names of the Palestinian prisoners to be released had been decided.