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Palestinian Killed in Gaza During Israeli Military Offensive - 2002-09-13

One Palestinian has been killed Friday and several others injured during an Israeli military offensive into the Gaza Strip. Israeli troops destroyed six suspected weapons-making factories during the operation.

Israeli tanks and personnel carriers, backed by helicopters and bulldozers, poured into Rafah, on the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

The Israeli army said in a statement the soldiers had come under attack from small arms, grenades and at least one rocket.

The army said the soldiers destroyed six metal workshops suspected of manufacturing mortar shells and Kassam rockets.

One Kassam rocket was fired Friday at a military convoy protecting a bus near the Jewish settlement of Netzarim in the Gaza Strip. The bus also came under attack from a roadside bomb. There were no injuries.

On Thursday, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired a Kassam rocket into a town in Israel in the Western Negev. The missile landed inside a house but did not explode.

The raid into Gaza coincided with a series of raids in the West Bank.

Israeli forces swept into the town of Tubas, near Nablus, where they conducted searches for Palestinian militants.

Hours earlier, about 10 Israeli tanks entered the town of Tulkarem, one of six Palestinian areas in the West Bank that have been placed under Israeli military rule since a spate of Palestinian suicide bombings in June.

Israel recently proposed scaling down its military presence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In return, the Palestinian security forces were to prevent attacks by militant groups.

Israel has so far only withdrawn from Bethlehem in the West Bank and says any further pullbacks will depend on a greater show of commitment by the Palestinian police to reducing violence.