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Continuing violence in Gaza

At least 12 Palestinians were killed and two Israel Defense Forces soldiers were lightly wounded on Wednesday in two separate IDF operations in the Gaza Strip.
Commenting on the raid, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas told reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Wednesday “we strongly condemn these criminal acts, either in Gaza or the West Bank. We are against violence in all its forms and also we are against launching rockets [at Israel]”
Roughly 40 Palestinians were wounded in the fighting. The IDF confirmed both operations, saying they were aimed at “negating threats.”

The army added that troops penetrated between one and two kilometers into the Strip, and conducted searches for wanted militants, explosive devices, and tunnel shafts.

At least nine Palestinians were killed, at least seven of them militants, in an IDF raid east of Gaza City, including senior Islamic Jihad militant Raed Fanuna.
Two IDF soldiers were lightly wounded in the operation when their tank was hit by an anti-tank rocket.

The additional militants killed in the raid were identified as 29-year-old Sami Manasra and Yussuf Manasra of Islamic Jihad, 27-year-old Nafez Hilas and 18-year-old Ahmed Hilas of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, and 25-year-old Anan Al-Ararir and Yussuf Jakha of Hamas.

According to Palestinian sources, Hazem Jundiya, 25, and Wadib Jundiya, 9, were also killed in the fighting.

The army said, however, that all those killed were armed militants.
In a separate raid near the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunis, troops killed Diya Abu Daka, of Islamic Jihad, and Hussam Abu Ataima of Hamas.
In addition, 25-year-old Hamas militant Mahmoud A-Sha’ar was killed and several others were wounded in an explosion in the area. It is unclear, however, whether the explosion was the result of IDF fire, or a “work accident” caused by militants mishandling explosives.

The IDF reported an estimated 15 Palestinian casualties, but did not specify how many were wounded and how many were killed.

An Israel Air Force helicopter fired on Palestinian militants near the Karni commercial goods crossing Wednesday afternoon. There were no immediate reports of casualties in the incident.

A Qassam rocket hit a western Negev town Wednesday, causing no damage or injuries. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility, Israel Radio reported.
Later, two more Qassam rockets struck the western Negev, and Palestinians fired three mortar shells at the Erez crossing. There were no injuries or damage in either attack.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum called the incursion part of a “conspiracy in which Abbas is a participant and which is aimed at pressuring Hamas and the people of Gaza.”

Fatah spokesman Jamal Nazzal condemned the raid, accusing Israel of using Hamas’s takeover of the Gaza Strip to try to justify “aggression against Palestinian civilians.”

Earlier Wednesday, IDF troops and Border Police wounded three Islamic Jihad militants, one of them moderately, in the West Bank village of Burkin near Jenin, Israel Radio reported.

Security sources said the three were connected to Fatah militant activity as well, and were involved in shooting and bombing attacks against security forces in the West Bank.

According to the IDF, the militants were holed up in a building in the town. Troops opened fire after two of them tried to flee, moderately wounding and arresting one of them. The second militant returned to the building.

After roughly one hour, the remaining militants tried to flee again, and troops opened fire one them, wounding both of them and taking them into custody.
All three militants were taken to Haemek Hospital in Afula for treatment, and will be handed over to the Shin Bet security service for questioning once their condition improves.

Palestinians in the village threw an explosive device at the soldiers, but caused no casualties.

Amy Goodman, on Democracy Now, reported: The attack comes just two days after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Egypt. Hamas leader Ismael Haniyeh, who has not recognized his dismissal as Palestinian Prime Minister by Abbas last week, said Israel is trying to further divide Palestinians.

Ismael Haniyeh: “We want to alert the Palestinian and Arab leaderships to the luring policy of Olmert which aims to divide our people and cause internal problems.”




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