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Last Updated: Friday, 22 February 2008, 13:38 GMT
Hamas urges EU to pressure Israel
Gaza Power Generating Company
European MPs expressed concern about the cut in electricity to Gaza
Hamas has urged the European Union to step up pressure on Israel to lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The militant Islamist group welcomed a call by the European parliament on Thursday for Israel to end its economic embargo of Gaza.

The European parliament also said Palestinian militants should stop firing rockets at Israel.

On Friday two Palestinian militants were killed in an Israeli air attack in the Gaza Strip.

Both were members of the Islamic Jihad organisation, which said they had been observing Israeli troop movements close to the border in central Gaza.

Israel frequently attacks militants, who fire rockets into Israeli territory on an almost daily basis.

The Palestinian militant groups insist the rocket fire is a response to what they term Israeli aggression.

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A Hamas spokesman praised the call by EU parliamentarians on Israel to end the blockade of Gaza and open its border crossings.

"We in Hamas are highly appreciative of the initiative," said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.

"We consider this an important development in the European attitude."

"We urge the European Union not to limit its action to purely calling for an end to the siege but also to apply political and practical pressure on Israel," Mr Abu Zuhri said.

European members of parliament, who have no executive powers, called on Israel to "fulfil its international obligations as an occupying power in the Gaza Strip" and expressed concern at recent Israeli power cuts to Gaza.

Israel rejected this on Friday.

"As far as we're concerned the ball is in the hands of the Palestinians and in the hands of Hamas," Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel said.

"If they stop the rocket fire at Israeli towns we will stop our steps, which are meant to halt the daily rocket fire."

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