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Israeli Troops Demolish 30 Houses, Mosque in Gaza - 2004-01-20


A Palestinian official in Gaza says Israeli army bulldozers have demolished 30 Palestinian homes and a mosque in a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, near the Egyptian border.

Witnesses say bulldozers backed by tanks rolled into the Rafah refugee camp before dawn and demolished the buildings after allowing residents to gather some of their belongings.

Israel says the buildings were used as cover for attacks on Israelis. Israel also says the mosque, which had been damaged in previous raids, is in an area full of tunnels Palestinian militants use to smuggle weapons from across the Egyptian border.

Meanwhile, 10 Palestinians were reported injured when Israeli troops used tear gas to disperse a crowd trying to push its way through the Erez border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

Separately, senior Israeli security officials are working on a possible response to Monday's killing of an Israeli soldier on the border with Lebanon.

The Israeli soldier was killed when Hezbollah fighters fired a rocket at a bulldozer he was driving to clear explosives planted along the border.

Hezbollah says the bulldozer was attacked when it entered Lebanese territory. Israel says the vehicle was on its side of the border.

The commander of Israeli forces in the region has warned that a response can be expected.