Israeli Troops Raid Southern
Gaza Town
By Jonathan Lis
Ha'aretz Daily

"GAZA CITY (AFP) - A Palestinian civilian was killed by Israeli tank fire in the town of Deir el-Balah in the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian security source said.

Mohsen al-Atrash, 23, was unarmed when he was killed by a tank shell near the central Gaza Strip Jewish settlement of Kfar Darom, the source said.

An Israeli army spokesman said soldiers had opened fire after a mortar round fired by Palestinians struck near the settlement without causing any damage.

Atrash's death was the only one recorded Wednesday in the nearly 20-month-old Palestinian uprising that has left more than 2,000 people dead.

Wednesday morning, Israeli troops backed by four tanks and an armored bulldozer, pushed 200 meters (yards) into a Palestinian controlled sector of the southern Gaza Strip early Wednesday and destroyed three houses, Palestinian security sources said.

The raid into Rafah came the morning after two Palestinians were slightly wounded by Israeli gunfire in the same area, near the border with Egypt.

The raid ended around after around five hours. Israeli forces destroyed three Palestinian houses and damaged several others, Palestinian sources said.

An army spokesman for his part reported Palestinian gunfire against the Jewish settlement of Neve Dekalim near Rafah. No one was wounded, he said.

An Israeli military source also said two mortar bombs were fired late Tuesday against at the southern Gaza Strip Jewish settlement block of Gush Katif, where a house was damaged.

At the Mawasi checkpoint near Rafah, three Palestinian women were also injured by Israelis who fired live rounds at them as they tried to reach their homes in the Mawasi enclave, under curfew since Sunday when a Jewish settler was killed there by a Palestinian employee.

The women were not seriously injured, medics said.

In another incident in the Gaza Strip, the army said it had destroyed a tunnel in Rafah that was connected with the Egyptian side of the border.

The tunnel, whose entrance was camouflaged in the shower of a home, had both telephone and electricity cables running along.

Separately, a Palestinian was shot and seriously wounded after Israeli troops, backed by tanks, pushed several hundred metres (yards) into the Palestinian-controlled center of Hebron in the West Bank, a hospital source said.

Civilian Ashraf Khatib, 34, was shot in the chest during gunfire before the Israeli troops pulled out.

An army spokesman denied that there had been an incursion, saying troops had opened fire with light arms in response to shooting at Jewish homes.

On Tuesday, an Israeli army moved into the Palestinian sector of Hebron and arrested a local activist of the Islamic radical group Hamas.

Hebron is a Palestinian city, but there is an enclave of 500 heavily armed Jewish settlers living there surrounded by 120,000 Palestinians and protected by the Israeli army."