&to=http:// english.pravda.ru/mailbox/22/101/397/14711_gaza.html ' target=_blank>Hamas, the militant political party sworn to destroy Israel, has stormed to victory in the first local elections to take place in Gaza.
The party, which is against restoring talks with Israel in the current intifada, won seven out of 10 councils. The landslide follows a similar strong showing in earlier elections in the West Bank.The group had boycotted the Jan 9 presidential election won by &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/diplomatic/2003/02/21/43571_.html ' target=_blank>Mahmoud Abbas. Mr Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, has been trying to agree a ceasefire with Hamas and other militants in order to allow the resumption of talks with Israel and avoid chaos in Gaza ahead of an Israeli plan to withdraw from settlements in the occupied territory, reports News.Telegraph.
International law will continue to view Israel as an occupying force in Gaza, even after its planned withdrawal, says a &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/world/2003/01/28/42646.html ' target=_blank>United Nations human-rights envoy.
John Dugard said Israel would remain responsible for Palestinian civilians in the territory, as it planned to retain control of Gaza's borders. Mr Dugard's annual report to the UN also suggested Israel's demolition of Palestinian homes was a war crime.