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Palestinians: IDF tanks backed by helicopters move into Gaza (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Amos Harel, Ha´aretz Correspondent , Ha´aretz Service and Agencies 12/01/02 02:16) Source: http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=236225&contrassID=1&subContrassID=0&sbSubContrassID=0 HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
An Israeli armoured column entered a Palestinian-ruled area of the Gaza Strip on Saturday, wounding at least four locals and demolishing the family homes of two militants, Palestinian hospital officials and witnesses said.

They said some 30 armoured vehicles including tanks, backed by Apache helicopters, had moved in on Beit Lahiya in the northern Strip under cover of darkness, at least three of them taking up position near the town´s administrative buildings.

Armed locals, many of them rallied by calls from mosque loudspeakers, were exchanging fire with the Israeli force, the witnesses said.

Israeli military sources confirmed an operation was under way. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The troops also blocked a main road linking Gaza City and northern towns, security officials said. Witnesses said the tanks fired tank shells at the town´s electricity transformers, knocking out power.

Earlier Saturday a 16-year-old Palestinian, Khatem Ajali, was killed by IDF gunfire Saturday east of the Gaza City neighborhood of Sajania, Israel Radio reported.

Witnesses said the group of schoolchildren were walking 700 meters near an IDF outpost at the Karni Crossing when soldiers fired at them. Military sources said soldiers fired warning shots at the teens when they neared a border fence, and were investigating the incident.

The army said it was checking the report.

IDF troops arrested on Saturday a long-sought commander of a militant group linked to Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat after it announced it mounted an attack on a polling booth that killed six people.

The arrest of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades commander Majid al-Masri near the West Bank city of Nablus followed a renewed pledge by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to hunt down those responsible for attacks on Israelis at home and abroad.

Two mortar shells were fired early Saturday morning at two Israeli settlements - one in the north and the other in the south. There were no injuries.

Also in Gaza, Palestinians also opened fire on an IDF outpost next to the Gadid settlement in Gush Katif and on troops near Rafah, on the Israel-Egypt border. Troops returned fire. There were no injuries.

On Friday, Israeli soldiers arrested a local leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs´ Brigades during a sweep into the West Bank town of Nablus, Palestinian sources said.

Majid Masri, 28, is the Al Aqsa leader in the Rafidia neighborhood of Nablus. Masri, who also used the name Abu Mojahed, was also a spokesman for the group in the West Bank. Israeli troops stormed a hideout where Masri was hiding during a sweep Friday night in Nablus, an Al Aqsa activist said.

Masri has been on Israel´s wanted list for a long time, and is suspected of involvement in a long line of shooting attacks and suicide bombings against Israeli targets.

Police safely detonate explosive device in Old City of Jerusalem Police safely detonated an explosive device that had been found in the Old City of Jerusalem on Friday. According to police estimates, the device was targeting police officers who usually patrol the area.

80,000 worshippers attended prayer services in Jerusalem Friday, the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan.

Also Friday, IDF soldiers safely detonated an explosive device adjacent to Baka al-Sharkiya. The device weighed twelve kilograms and was attached to a gas container, Israel Radio reported.

IDF kills Palestinian who infiltrated Gaza settlement IDF troops killed a Palestinian gunman who infiltrated into the hothouses between the Gaza Strip settlements of Bdolah and Atzmona on Friday morning. A Kalashnikov rifle and several hand grenades were found on his body.

Two Thai workers were wounded, one of them seriously and the other moderately, and an IDF soldier sustained light wounds in the attack. The injured were taken to Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva.

Earlier Friday two IDF soldiers were lightly wounded in a gunfight with Palestinian gunmen in the Yakinton outpost near the Gaza Strip settlement of Neveh Dekalim. IAF helicopters participated in the gun battle, and the gunmen fled to Khan Yunis.

The IDF imposed a curfew on the West Bank city of Ramallah Friday morning, the first curfew since the Ramadan holiday began.

Also in the West Bank, troops arrested eight wanted Palestinians.

IDF, Palestinians blame each other for death of toddler in Hebron A 4-year-old Palestinian boy, Abbas Atras, was killed in the West Bank city of Hebron Thursday, and Israeli and Palestinians officials accused each other of responsibility.

Palestinian doctors at Hebron´s Alia hospital said a bullet fired by Israeli troops hit the child in the stomach as he stood near a window in his house, killing him. The soldiers were enforcing a curfew.

IDF officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said an explosive device was thrown at troops standing near a house, and fragments of the bomb hit the child inside. The troops were not injured, they said.

Raghi Atras, the father, said he heard gunfire before he saw his son had been shot. "Abbas was at the window and we heard gunshots," Atras said. "I heard him screaming and realized he was injured."

The attack occurred in the hilltop neighborhood of Abu Sneineh, overlooking concentrations of Jewish settlers who live in the city. Palestinian gunmen have used the hilltop to fire on the Jewish enclaves below, and the area now has a heavy military presence.

Israeli troops boosted their presence in the city earlier this month following a Nov. 15 attack that killed 12 members of Israeli security forces. (© Copyright 2002 Ha´aretz 12/01/02)

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