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US told to push Israelis to halt

GAZA CITY -- The Palestinian prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, said yesterday that he wants Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to force Israel to end its offensive that began almost a month ago in the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, new attacks killed six Palestinians.

Rice flew to Jerusalem last night to discuss ways to end fighting on Israel's second front, where it is battling Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrillas. Rice will meet Israeli and Palestinian officials during her trip but not Haniyeh, a leader of the Islamic militant group Hamas that the State Department lists as a terrorist organization.

``All that we ask the American administration is to take a moral stance toward the Palestinian people, and the Palestinian suffering, and to bear its responsibility as a superpower in this world," Haniyeh said in an interview.

Israel launched its Gaza offensive after militants linked to Hamas captured an Israeli soldier in a raid on an army post inside Israel. More than 100 Palestinians, most of them gunmen, have been killed.

In the latest violence, Israeli artillery pounded the northern town of Beit Lahiya, killing six Palestinians. The army said it had targeted areas used by militants to fire rockets into Israel. On Sunday, militants fired at least seven rockets at southern Israel, causing no casualties, the army said.

In one artillery attack, Israeli shells exploded near an apartment building, leaving a large crater and sending residents into a frenzy.

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