Wed, Aug 23, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Israeli army makes several incursions into Gaza

AGENCIES , GAZA CITY, GAZA STRIP

Israeli troops shot and killed three Islamic Jihad militants near the Israel-Gaza border fence yesterday near the town of Khan Younis.

Palestinian medics discovered the bodies after daybreak near the Kissufim crossing.

The army said that soldiers opened fire after spotting what they considered suspicious figures walking near the fence, carrying large bags. Tanks also fired in the direction of the three men, the army said. No weapons were found near the bodies, but Palestinian security officials said the three had been sent to carry out an attack.

In separate fighting in Gaza, Israeli tanks moved into the eastern part of the strip overnight and troops seized five Palestinian militants after clashing with fighters there, the army said.

Witnesses said the tanks, supported by unmanned flying drones, entered Gaza near the Karni crossing, the main terminal for goods entering and leaving the densely populated strip.

At least three Palestinian fighters were wounded when they were hit by a missile fired by one of the drones. An army spokesman said the raid in eastern Gaza targeted five wanted Palestinians, including two members of the Islamic militant group Hamas, which controls the Palestinian government.

"Forces surrounded a house in which the five wanted Palestinians were located," the army spokesman said.

"Some exchanges of fire occurred during which one of the wanted men was injured. The five were arrested and taken for questioning," he said.

Weapons were found in the house, he said.

Israeli tanks and bulldozers also entered a village east of Khan Younis yesterday morning. At least two Palestinian civilians were wounded in the clashes, including a 14-year-old boy who suffered head wounds, medics said. Several other civilians were also hurt.

Israel has frequently carried out brief incursions into the Gaza Strip since launching an air and ground offensive in late June to rescue a soldier captured by Palestinian militants and to stop rocket fire into Israel.

Overnight, Israel carried out air strikes at houses in Jabalya, a district of Gaza City, in the northern part of the strip, and the southern Gaza town of Rafah after telling residents to leave their homes, witnesses said.

They said the strikes were apparently aimed at the homes of members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Gaza, a narrow coastal piece of land that is home to 1.4 million Palestinians, was occupied by Israeli troops until August last year, when soldiers and about 8,000 Jewish settlers pulled out after nearly 40 years of occupation.

A week ago, armed men kidnapped two journalists -- one from US and one from New Zealand -- from the Fox TV network as they were working in Gaza City. There has been no word on their whereabouts and no claim of responsibility for their abduction.

While kidnappings have not been uncommon in Gaza in recent years, most of the abductions have been resolved in a matter of hours without any harm being done to the captives.

Meanwhile, Israeli police have searched the official residence of Israel's president as part of a sexual harassment investigation, and will question him soon, Israel Radio reported yesterday.

Officers seized computers and documents in Monday night's raid, the report said.

At least two women have accused President Moshe Katsav of harassing them. Katsav has denied wrongdoing.

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