Gulf News
February 9, 2009 - 1:00am

Dubai: On the eve of Israeli parliamentary elections, a Palestinian fighter belonging to Islamic Jihad was killed by Israeli troops in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hannoun.

The fighter was on a mission to attack Israeli patrol on the border with Israel, according to Islamic Jihad.

Earlier in the day, Israel carried out air strikes on a building used by Hamas police, with no casualties reported. The air strikes came in response to continued rocket fire from Hamas on Sunday.

Palestinian foreign minister Riad Malki accused Hamas of fostering instability in the region ahead of the Israeli vote.

According to Malki, the Palestinian Authority - which is at odds with Hamas - is particularly worried that the attacks will push Israeli voters to vote for a candidate who is against peace with the Palestinians.

Final opinion polls placed the the hawkish Likud party ahead of the centrist Kadima party by a few seats.

Likud frontrunner Benjamin Netanyahu has been a vocal and hardline critic of Israeli peace moves, resigning from the government to protest former Prime Minister Arial Sharon's plan to unilaterally withdraw Israeli troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip.

Likud has made a comeback this year, which many experts link to the growing power and influence of Hamas.

"The policy of the left to conduct negotiations - the public is seeing it as not realistic," Reuven Hazan, a professor in political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017