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Israel Rejects Militants Demand To Release 1,000 Prisoners


Israel has rejected demands from Palestinian militants holding an Israeli soldier.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman said Saturday that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has repeated there will be no deals. The spokesman said either the Israeli soldier will be released or Israel will move to free him.

Earlier Saturday, Palestinian militants from the armed wing of Hamas and two other groups the Popular Resistance Committees and the Army of Islam said in a statement that Israel must free one thousand prisoners and stop its assault on the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, media reports say Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen have clashed in the southern Gaza Strip near the town of Khan Yunis. It is unclear whether there have been casualties.

In Washington Saturday, President George Bush said the release of the Israeli soldier is key to ending the current crisis. Mr. Bush made the remark in a telephone call with Turkey's prime minister

Overnight Friday and early today, Israel kept up the pressure with airstrikes on various buildings and training camps used by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian officials said a Palestinian doctor had visited the captured Israeli soldier and treated his wounds.

Palestinian gunmen abducted the Israeli soldier on Sunday at an army post near the southern Gaza Strip.

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