Israel Kills Two in Gaza Raid Before Gunship Attack (REUTERS) By Shahdi al-Kashif BEIT LAHIYA, Gaza Strip 12/01/02 03:42 PM ET)
Reuters News Service
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BEIT LAHIYA, Gaza Strip (Reuters) - Israeli forces killed two people
in a raid on a Gaza Strip town and wounded four others in a
helicopter gunship attack nearby, Palestinian sources said on Sunday.
The helicopter fired two missiles at a car carrying three members of
the Islamic Jihad organization between the town of Beit Lahiya and
Jabalya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, injuring one of them
and three bystanders, Palestinian security sources said.
The security sources said the men leapt out of the vehicle as the
Apache helicopter struck. The car´s driver was wounded in the attack.
A Palestinian youth, a police officer and a third bystander were also
hurt, the sources said.
Israeli officials had no immediate comment on the helicopter strike,
a tactic the military has used in the past to kill militants accused
of suicide bombings in a two-year-old Palestinian uprising.
The militant Islamic Jihad group said one of its field commanders,
who was in the vehicle, was apparently the target of the attack but
was unhurt. It named him as Mukaled Hamid but did not name the other
men in the car.
FAMILY HOMES RAZED
Israeli troops earlier killed two people and destroyed a three-story
apartment building in a raid on Beit Lahiya to raze family homes of
militants, witnesses said.
Residents said 30 armored vehicles, backed by three helicopter
gunships, rumbled into the town late on Saturday and cut it off from
Gaza City, seven km (four miles) away, before leaving about three
Hospital officials said a 32-year-old man was shot dead and 20 others
were wounded in the town, where gunmen crouched in graffiti-covered
alleyways exchanged fire with Israeli forces. Unarmed Palestinians
cheered on the gunmen from a distance.
Army engineers blew up the family homes of three Islamic militants,
one of them wanted since 1996 for a Tel Aviv bus suicide bombing that
killed 20 people. Local residents said two of the men belonged to
Hamas and the third to Islamic Jihad.
The body of an elderly Palestinian was found under the rubble of one
of the three homes demolished by the Israeli forces, residents said.
"We do everything to make sure that the houses are empty of people,
and we take several steps to do it. We call out on loudspeakers, then
search within the building to make sure there is no one inside," army
spokesman Captain Jacob Dallal said.
"At the end of the search, we call out again to tell any remaining
occupants to leave, and only then is the house destroyed. The whole
painstaking procedure takes up to two or three hours."
Residents speculated the dead man had not heard the army call over
loudspeakers for people to vacate their homes.
Israel has launched frequent incursions into Palestinian-ruled areas
in the Gaza Strip and West Bank during the uprising, with the stated
aim of striking militants behind attacks on Israelis.
At least 1,688 Palestinians and 668 Israelis have been killed since
the revolt began after peace talks stalled.
FATAH TO RESUME TALKS WITH HAMAS
A senior official of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat´s Fatah
faction said the group would resume talks with Hamas in Cairo in
about two weeks.
Fatah and Hamas met in the Egyptian capital last month to discuss a
possible halt to Hamas suicide bombings in Israel. Palestinian
sources said the negotiations ended without any agreement other than
to meet again.
The Fatah official said the faction would keep trying to persuade
Hamas to halt "resistance operations" inside Israel and would
continue discussions on the possibility of Hamas participation in
Palestinian elections slated for January.
Hamas officials were not immediately available to comment.
Meanwhile, Israeli police halted buses traveling on a route in
northern Israel which has been hit several times by Palestinian
suicide bombers in the past few months.
The decision was taken following warnings that Palestinian militants
were planning an imminent attack in the area.
Using flares to light up the night sky, security forces scoured
fields separating Israel from the West Bank following reports
militants had infiltrated into the Jewish state. (© Reuters 2002
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