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Middle East

Israeli raids kill Palestinian in Gaza, Mubarak arrives in France

Article published on the 2009-02-09 Latest update 2009-02-09 17:01 TU

Mubarak (R) talks with French Senate President Gerard Larcher in Cairo on Sunday
(Photo: Reuters)

Mubarak (R) talks with French Senate President Gerard Larcher in Cairo on Sunday
(Photo: Reuters)

An Israeli aerial bombardment left one Palestinian dead on Monday according to Palestinian medics. The Israeli military launched two raids on the Gaza strip overnight following the firing of two rockets into Israel. The rocket fire into Israel caused no casualties.

A 22-year-old Palestinian man died when his house in Beit Hanoun was struck in the attacks.

The violence comes despite the ceasefire, in force since mid-January, that brought the 22-day Israeli offensive in Gaza to an end.

On Sunday, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak left for Paris where he met French President Nicolas Sarkozy for a working lunch to discuss the current situation in the Middle East.

Mubarak briefed Sarkozy on Egyptian efforts to mediate a truce in the Gaza conflict. Egypt had tried to work through indirect talks.

The Egyptian leader will travel on to Germany and Italy as part of a four-day tour of Europe. He is accompanied by Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Egypt's Foreign Minister and Omar Suleiman, the head of the Egyptian Intelligence Agency.

A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry in Cairo said it was hopeful that agreement could be reached between Israel and Hamas in the coming days on an accord on a truce and the reopening of crossing points into Gaza.

In Israel, the question of rocket fire from Gaza remains an issue in campaigning ahead of the country's legislative elections on Tuesday. Former President Benjamin Netanyahu, on Sunday vowed to eradicate rocket fire as well as arms smuggling into Gaza.

Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party is considered favourite for the vote although 20 per cent of voters have told surveys they are undecided.

The leader of the centrist Kadima party, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, has said she is "not associated" with suggestions by outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to remove settlers from the West Bank and to give Palestinians some control of Jerusalem.

The last polls before Tuesday's snap election, gave Likud 25 to 27 seats and Kadima 23 to 25 seats. Israel's traditionally left-wing party, Labour could, if the opinion pollsters' forecasts are right, be relegated to the country's fourth most important party. The ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party, they predict, could garner up to 19 seats out of the 120 in the Knesset - Israeli's parliament.

Israel's offensive in Gaza