GAZA, Gaza, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas described the State of Israel Tuesday as "the Zionist enemy" in a rally held in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip.
It is the first time Abbas, who is running for presidenct in Sunday's election, used such incendiary language against Israel. It followed an Israeli shelling that left eight dead, mostly children. The shelling was in response to a rocket attack on a nearby Jewish settlement.
"We came here to ask mercy for our martyrs who were killed by the shells of the Zionist enemy in Beit Lahya," Abbas told thousands of supporters.
In Jerusalem, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Israel was worried over Abbas' "very militant" statements. Even during his election campaign he cannot use such statements, Shalom said.
Israel would like to see Abbas "working very hard" to stop the rocket attacks on Israeli towns and settlements and "would do everything to stop it (if need be) but we'd like to see the Palestinians do it," Shalom added.