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Israel- Palestinians - 2003-03-04


Palestinians on the Gaza strip fired rockets at a neighboring Israeli town, after Israeli forces raided two Palestinian refugee camps on the Gaza strip overnight. Eight people were killed, at least 40 more were wounded and a founder of the militant group Hamas was arrested. Amy Katz has more.

Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets of the El-Bureij refugee camp Monday for the funerals of those killed in the Israeli military operation. They chanted “God is Great” and “bombings are the only option,” referring to bombings against Israeli targets.

A 13-year-old boy and a pregnant woman were among those killed in clashes, which broke out during the raids on the El-Bureij and Nusairat camps. Two homes were blown up, and several more were damaged in the blasts. Israeli has recently intensified its operations in Gaza, in response to an explosion that destroyed an Israeli tank, killing five soldiers.

The Palestinian Authority says the Monday incursions signal that Israeli is stepping up its military operations in Gaza, while world attention is focused on Iraq.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat strongly condemned the killings and urged the U.S. to do so as well.

SAEB EREKAT, CHIEF PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATOR (ENGLISH)
“These crimes must be condemned by the American administration because silence to such crimes is becoming (starting) to encourage their re-occurrence.”

During the El-Bureij raid, Israeli troops arrested Mohammed Taha, one of the founders of the Palestinian militant group Hamas. They also arrested at least three of his sons.

In Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon met with parliament members of his Likud party, and briefed them on the Gaza operations, but he made no public comment on the raids.

Meanwhile, on the West Bank, Israeli forces reentered the Casbah section of the West Bank’s largest city, Nablus, aiming to root out the terrorist infrastructure there. Elsewhere in Nablus, clashes erupted between Israeli soldiers and young Palestinians.

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