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Palestinian Killed, 13 Others Wounded in Israeli Army Raid - 2001-11-15


At least one Palestinian is dead and 13 others wounded following an Israeli army raid in the Gaza Strip. Israeli troops backed by tanks and bulldozers launched an incursion into the Khan Yunis refugee camp in Gaza.

The bulldozers moved hundreds of meters into the camp, destroying buildings the army says were being used as cover for Palestinians firing mortars and guns at a nearby Jewish settlement.

Palestinian leaders in the camp used loudspeakers in mosques to call people out to fight the Israelis. The raid sparked a heavy exchange of tank and gunfire.

The Israeli soldiers pulled back from Khan Yunis, and the Palestinians tried to recover their belongings from the destroyed homes.

The army also entered the Palestinian village of Shawawra, near Bethlehem and arrested a number of suspected militants before withdrawing.

Palestinians held small, somber rallies marking the 13th anniversary of President Yasser Arafat's symbolic declaration of independence. In a speech, Mr. Arafat said he remains committed to peace with Israel, but that Israel must withdraw from all land captured during the 1967 Middle East war.

Palestinians observe November 15, the day in 1988 when Mr. Arafat declared statehood from exile, as a national holiday.

In the West Bank town of Ramallah, several hundred Palestinians attended an independence-day rally, with speakers saying the current uprising against Israel must continue.

Meanwhile, Israel's defense ministry announced that during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan travel restrictions would be eased in the Palestinian territories. The army says some roadblocks will be removed, and toward the end of Ramadan 30 Palestinian prisoners will be released from Israeli jails.

The military has maintained a tight closure on the territories since the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation broke out more than 13 months ago.

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