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Amid rising tension, Israeli missiles strike Abbas's compound

Step is response to rocket fire

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip -- Israeli warplanes fired three missiles into the Gaza compound of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday in response to Palestinian rocket fire -- the first such Israeli attack since the violent Islamic group Hamas took power last week.

Abbas condemned the attack, saying it had nothing to do with Hamas and was aimed at disrupting the daily lives of Palestinians.

The site was largely abandoned, and the army gave no explanation for hitting the security compound of the moderate leader, who was in the West Bank at the time. The missile strikes dug deep craters and wounded two police officers.

Also yesterday, Israel's new governing coalition started taking shape when the moderate Labor Party said it would join Kadima, led by acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. A Kadima-Labor coalition would be committed to Olmert's plan to set Israel's borders by 2010, withdrawing from large parts of the West Bank.

Final results from last week's Israeli election gave Kadima 29 seats and Labor 19 in the 120-seat Israeli parliament, requiring them to bring in additional parties to secure a majority. Coalition talks are expected to take weeks.

Since Hamas took control of the Cabinet, Israeli officials said they would shun the Palestinian Authority but would continue to work with Abbas, leader of the defeated Fatah Party. The attack yesterday did not appear aimed at the Palestinian president, either directly or indirectly.

Israeli security officials have said Israel needs to send clear messages to Hamas that it must halt attacks, and Israel pledged to intensify its military strikes after Gaza militants fired a Katyusha rocket at Israel last week.

Abbas denounced the airstrike and called for international intervention to stop what he called Israel's ''destruction for the sake of destruction." He said he contacted ''the UN, Russia, the EU, and Arab states, and told them that these actions complicate daily life and affect our human and social status."

Asked about the possibility Israel targeted a Palestinian security force that is under the authority of Hamas, Abbas replied that who is in charge of the various forces is none of Israel's business. ''It is internal business," he said, adding Israel ''doesn't have the right to interfere."

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