Mitchell Calls for Lasting Peace as New Violence Hits Gaza

18 injured in Israeli counterstrike
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 29, 2009 12:19 PM CST
U.S. Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, left, walks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, at Abbas' headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Thursday, Jan. 29, 2009.   (AP Photo/ PPO, Omar Rashidi, HO)
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(Newser) – Fresh violence in Gaza today threatened the fragile ceasefire as George Mitchell called for a lasting truce between Hamas and Israel, AFP reports. An Israeli air strike wounded 18 Palestinians, including 11 children and a pregnant woman. The Israeli army said it was targeting a Hamas policeman responsible for a bombing that killed an Israeli soldier 2 days ago.

"Lasting peace is our objective and the United States will sustain an active commitment to two states living side by side in peace, stability and security," Mitchell said after meeting with Fatah president Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. The Obama administration's Mideast envoy said ending Israel’s blockade of Gaza was paramount to stopping the smuggling of illegal weapons by Hamas.