Accessibility links

3 Die in Gaza Blast - 2001-08-20

A Palestinian man and his two children died after an explosion ripped through their home in the Gaza Strip. The three died under disputed circumstances.

The Palestinian activist, Samir Abu Zeid, and his young daughter and son were killed in the blast. Palestinian officials said an Israeli missile hit his home in the southern Gaza Strip near the Egyptian border.

Israel denied firing a missile at the house and initially said the explosion occurred when a Palestinian mortar, which was aimed at an Israeli position, fell short of its target.

Later, a military spokesman said an examination of the evidence showed Mr. Abu Zeid was handling a bomb that exploded prematurely.

Mr. Abu Zeid was the leader of a local squad of activists engaged in confrontations with Israeli troops and Jewish settlers in Gaza.

Meanwhile, the Israeli army says it seized a Palestinian truck full of weapons and ammunition as it crossed from Israeli territory into the Gaza Strip. An army spokesman says the weapons were hidden under building material in a truck driven by a Palestinian man from the West Bank town of Ramallah.

Elsewhere, soldiers sealed off an area in East Jerusalem's Beit Hanina neighborhood as bulldozers leveled two four-story buildings under construction. Israel says the buildings were demolished because the owners had no building permits.

Palestinians say it is virtually impossible to obtain such permits in the traditionally Arab sector of the city.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres has been trying to revive cease-fire talks, but declined comment on reports he is proposing a gradual truce that would take place in certain areas of the West Bank and Gaza.

A cease-fire reached in June has not stopped the fighting. More than 700 people, mostly Palestinians, have been killed since the conflict erupted last September.