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Deadline expires for captured Israeli in Gaza

Written by: Staff
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GAZA, July 4 (Reuters) A deadline set by Palestinian militants for Israel to free hundreds of prisoners in exchange for a captured soldier expired today with the Jewish state rejecting any swap.

Three factions in Gaza, among them the armed wing of the governing Hamas Islamist group, had given Israel until 6 a.m.

0830 hrs IST -- threatening that it should respond by then if it valued the life of the captured soldier.

Refusing to discuss a prisoner exchange, Israel has launched its first offensive in the Gaza Strip since giving up the territory last summer and massed troops and armour for a possible expansion of the ground operation.

Overnight, an Israeli air strike in northern Gaza killed one militant and wounded two others. The army said they were planting bombs. In Gaza City, an Israeli missile hit the Islamic University, a Hamas stronghold. The army said it had attacked a building used by Hamas to plan attacks.

REUTERS CH RS0954

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