Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Wednesday that both Israel and Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip were being held hostage by the Islamist Hamas movement.
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"You unfortunately are victims because of this extremist entity that is taking hostages its own people and attacking you," Frattini said while on a visit to the rocket-battered down of Sderot, after touring the Hamas-ruled Palestinian territory.
Frattini also said urged the Western-backed Palestinian Authority to reconcile with Hamas in order to liberate the people of Gaza.
Attempts at reconciliation since Hamas' bloody 2007 coup of Gaza have failed, despite repeated attempts by Egypt to mediate.
Senior members of the Palestinian Authority's ruling Fatah movement met earlier Wednesday to discuss reconciliation efforts, as well as future moves regarding the Middle East peace process.