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Israel: 300 Palestinians in Libya can enter West Bank
Ma`an News Agency

Israel has decided it will allow 300 Palestinians in Libya to enter the occupied West Bank as a `humanitarian gesture,` Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said late Wednesday.

The decision came after he `received a personal request from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ... that Israel allow a number of Palestinians to leave Libya and to enter the Palestinian territories.`

The Palestinian Authority asked Israel to allow Palestinians in Libya to enter the territories, officials said, as the regime of Moammar Gadhafi moved to crush an uprising.

PA Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein Al-Sheikh said the PA submitted a request that Israel allow Palestinians in Libya who lack Palestinian identity cards and passports to enter the territories.

`We submitted an official request to the Israeli side to permit the entry of Palestinians who want to return to the homeland,` Ash-Sheikh told Ma`an radio.

The Palestinian government in Ramallah has made contact with other international parties, he added.

Libya`s regime says 300 people, including 111 soldiers, have been killed in the protests.

Rights groups, however, have said the toll could be as high as 400.

Opponents of Gadhafi appeared firmly in control of Libya`s coastal east, from the Egyptian border through to the cities of Tobruk and Benghazi, with government soldiers switching sides to join the uprising.

His government said 300 people, including 111 soldiers, had been killed in the protests, which erupted after the rulers of neighboring Tunisia and Egypt were ousted in similar uprisings.

China, India, South Korea, France and the United States, among other countries, scrambled to evacuate their citizens from the turbulent nation, as the international community condemned the crackdown.

The UN Security Council `condemned the violence and use of force against civilians, deplored the repression against peaceful demonstrators and expressed deep regret at the deaths of hundreds of civilians.`

Army, police and militias have killed unarmed demonstrators indiscriminately, even to the point where air force planes strafed civilians, according to widespread reports.

The 68-year-old Gadhafi, a former army colonel, is yet to show any signs of relenting.

AFP contributed to this report.

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