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Palestinians: Gaza meeting under way

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GAZA CITY (CNN) -- Officials from the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli military were holding meetings Tuesday in Gaza, Palestinian sources said, seeking an end to a major Israeli offensive aimed at halting Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel.

But the Israeli military said that no official negotiations are under way.

Israeli troops moved into Gaza Wednesday after a Qassam rocket landed in a street in the southern Israeli city of Sderot, killing two small children.

Israeli officials say militants fired at least 30 Qassam rockets into Israel during the month of September.

The Palestinian death toll from the latest fighting is near 80, according to statements from Palestinian officials.

A Hamas leader told CNN Thursday, as the Israeli troops were moving into northern Gaza, that his group would end the rocket attacks if the Israelis left.

Hamas is a Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist organization. The group's military wing, Izzedine al Qassam, has admitted responsibility for attacks against Israeli civilians as well as attacks against the Israeli military. The United States labels Hamas a terrorist organization.

In a radio address Monday night, Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat appeared to call for a stop to the rocket attacks, saying Palestinian militants in Gaza should not give Israel any reason to stage incursions into Palestinian territory.

At the United Nations, Palestinian representative Nasser Al-Kidwa expressed sympathy over the deaths of the two Israeli children but said Israel had overreacted.

The Palestinians are pushing for a Security Council resolution denouncing the Israeli incursion, but the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, John Danforth, said the United States, which has veto power, believes the resolution is one-sided.

The Israeli military says its intention is to create a 9 kilometer (5.5 mile) buffer zone, putting Israeli cities near northern Gaza outside the range of the crudely-built Qassam rockets.

Palestinians: Car struck by missile

In the latest violence, an Israeli aircraft fired a missile that hit a car in Gaza City Tuesday evening, killing Bashir Dabash, a commander in the military wing of the radical Palestinian group Islamic Jihad and his assistant, Palestinian security sources said. Three other people were wounded in the incident.

There was no immediate comment on the report from the Israel Defense Forces.

In fighting earlier Tuesday, one member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades was killed in northern Gaza and a Palestinian teenage girl was killed in southern Gaza.

The Al Aqsa member was killed and five others were wounded when an Israeli drone fired a rocket at the Jabalya refugee camp in northern Gaza, Palestinian security sources said. Two of the wounded were in critical condition, they said. The Israel Defense Forces had no immediate comment.

The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, also labeled a terrorist organization by the United States, is a military offshoot of Arafat's Fatah movement that has carried out numerous attacks against Israeli military targets and civilians.

The Palestinian girl was killed near an Israeli checkpoint at Rafah in southern Gaza. There were conflicting accounts of how she died.

Israeli officials said she left a suspicious package at the checkpoint and ran when confronted by Israeli troops. The Israeli military said troops fired at the girl but that Palestinians were also firing in her direction.

The Palestinian version of events is that the girl was on her way to school when Israeli troops open fired and killed her.

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