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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 September 2006, 11:53 GMT 12:53 UK
Israel army contests Hamas ruling
Israeli soldiers in Gaza Strip
Israel has increased military pressure on Palestinian territories
Israeli army lawyers are contesting a court decision to release senior Hamas members, some of whom have been detained since June.

Lawyers for the 19 men, who include three cabinet ministers, say the appeal will be heard on Monday.

The Israeli authorities seized a large number of Hamas MPs and officials after militants linked to Hamas captured a soldier and killed two others.

Earlier, Israeli troops killed one Palestinian during a raid in Gaza.

Medical sources said the man was a local resident who was shot in the head and chest at the entrance to his house.

He bled to death because the military prevented an ambulance from entering the area, the medical sources said.

The Israeli military said a man had been shot who approached troops and posed a threat. It said it did not know whether the man was armed.

The shooting happened near the Sufa crossing between Gaza and Israel, about 400 metres (1,300 feet) from the border.

More than 210 Palestinians, many of them civilians, and two Israeli soldiers have been killed in military operations since Israel intensified its raids in Gaza and the West Bank following the capture of the Israeli soldier by Palestinian militants in a cross-border raid from Gaza on 25 June.

Arrests questioned

An Israeli military judge had ordered the release of some of the detained Hamas officials on Tuesday and army prosecutors had 48 hours to appeal against the decision.

The judge noted that Israel had allowed the men to compete successfully in Palestinian parliamentary election in January and questioned the timing of their detention after four months in office.

Hamas is set to join a national unity government with the mainstream Fatah faction in the coming days.

Israeli media reports, quoting Palestinian officials, say the officials may be freed as part of a deal leading to the eventual release of the captured Israeli soldier.

Also on Thursday, Israeli troops are reported to have detained seven local officials from Hamas in a raid in the West Bank town of Bethlehem.




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