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Gaza funeral draws thousands

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  • Gaza funeral draws thousands

    Gaza funeral draws thousands

    Tens of thousands of Palestinians have turned out in Gaza for the funeral of the Hamas leader killed in an Israeli air strike on Thursday.
    The body of Abu Shanab and his two bodyguards were taken from the city's main hospital to the mosque surrounded by militiamen.

    The three men were killed as the Israeli Government took retaliatory action for a suicide bombing in Jerusalem on Tuesday that left 20 people dead, including six children.

    Gaza City has been blocked off by Israeli forces, who for the second night running also entered the West Bank city of Jenin.
    As Abu Shanab's funeral procession travelled through the streets of Gaza, shots rang out along with voices calling for revenge against Israel.

    The BBC's Chris Morris, reporting from Gaza, said Mr Shanab was a popular figure among Palestinians and was being buried as a martyr.

    But, our correspondent says, after the attack on a bus full of Jewish families in Jerusalem, senior Israeli sources are talking tough.

    Militant killed

    "This, they say, is just the beginning. They have a list of names to target and they will work through it if they have to," he said.

    On Friday, Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian militant and wounded two others when they opened fire on a hospital in the West Bank city of Nablus, Palestinian security sources said.

    Witnesses said the three men were hiding in a rooftop room of Rafidiya hospital when soldiers shot at the room.

    Israeli security sources said the men were armed militants wanted for their involvement in a suicide bombing in Israel last week and shooting attacks in the West Bank.

    Palestinian sources said the men were members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

    The Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad have both said their seven-week-long truce is now over and vowed to take revenge for Abu Shanab's killing.

    Israel reimposed a roadblock on Gaza's main highway that cuts the territory in two and undoes one of the confidence-building measures adopted under the US-backed peace roadmap.

    In a statement, Hamas' military wing urged its "fighters in Palestine to strike in every corner of the Jewish state" following the death of Mr Shanab.

    The BBC's James Reynolds, in Jerusalem, says Israeli political sources doubt the ability of the Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas - known as Abu Mazen - to tackle the armed groups.

    In Jerusalem there are more police officers and security guards out on the streets looking to prevent suicide bombings, our correspondent says.

    On Thursday night, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip fired more than a dozen mortar bombs and several rockets at Jewish settlements inside the Strip and at Sderot, a nearby Israeli town.

    Witnesses said the shelling caused slight damage but no casualties.

    The upsurge in violence threatens to derail the US-backed roadmap for peace, accepted by Israel and the Palestinians as a way to end the three-year-old conflict.

    US Secretary of State Colin Powell has said the violence did not mean the end of the roadmap and called on both sides to recommit to the peace moves.

    But Egypt's Foreign Minister, Ahmed Maher, criticised Israel over the killing of Abu Shanab.

    And French Foreign Minister, Dominique de Villepin, called on both the Israelis and the Palestinians to break out of what he called the tragic cycle of violence.

    Mr de Villepin also called for Europe to become more active in the stalled peace process.
    "Every man has his weakness. Mine was always just cigarettes."