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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 March 2006, 14:35 GMT 15:35 UK
In pictures: Israel votes

An Ultra-Orthodox supporter of the Shas party

Ultra-Orthodox supporters of the Shas party are among those out early to try to rally voters, as Israelis vote in a general election.

Armed settlers in the West Bank city of Hebron

Armed settlers in the West Bank city of Hebron wait to vote at a polling station.

Palestinians are searched at checkpoints in Nablus in the West Bank

Security is extremely tight, amid fears of attacks by Palestinian militants. Palestinians are banned from entering Israel and searched at checkpoints in the West Bank.

Shimon Peres holds his ballot slip

Former Labour leader Shimon Peres has now joined the Kadima party, which is expected to become only the third governing party since the foundation of Israel.

Kadima leader Ehud Olmert votes

Kadima leader Ehud Olmert is expected to become prime minister.

Poster of Ariel Sharon

He has promised to follow the path of Ariel Sharon, whose shadow hangs over the election, even though he has been in a coma for nearly three months.

Amir Peretz receives a blessing from Pirkha Hermel

Labour party leader Amir Peretz receives a blessing from his former kindergarten teacher and Holocaust survivor Pirkha Hermel.

Binyamin Netanyahu arrives to vote

The Likud party of former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has suffered heavily at the hands of Kadima, and may end up third...

Avigdor Lieberman at the Western Wall

...but may slip to fourth behind the right-wing nationalist party Yisrael Beitenu, led by Avigdor Lieberman, seen praying at the Western Wall before voting.

An Israeli watches waves from the beach

Not everyone is struck by election fever. Pollsters say the new centrist consensus, displacing the polarised Labour-Likud battle, has left some apathetic.

Police secure the scene where two Israeli shepherds lie dead

However a reminder of the daily troubles in the region is not long in arriving, as two Israeli Arab Bedouin shepherds are killed by a rocket apparently launched from the Gaza Strip.





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