Deaths in Israeli Raid on Nablus; Hamas to Maintain Truce

An Israeli soldier and a Palestinian fighter have been killed during an Israeli raid on a refugee camp in the West Bank town of Nablus.
 
The Israeli military said another of its soldiers was wounded after they were fired upon as they entered the Ein Bet Ilmeh refugee camp on Tuesday.
 
Smoke rose from the camp and loud booms and gunshots could be heard as a helicopter gunship hovered overhead.
 
Medics said the fighter, who was the fourth Palestinian killed by Israeli troops in the past three days in the West Bank, belonged to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
 
Al Jazeera\’s Shireen Abu Aqla said Israeli forces opened fire at a building in the centre of the camp, saying that there were wanted fighters inside.
 
Israeli soldiers also prevented Palestinian worshippers from leaving a mosque inside the camp, Abu Aqla reported.
 
As well as the PFLP, fighters from Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, who are linked to the ruling Fatah faction, battled Israeli forces, Aqla said.
 
Al-Quds Brigades fighters were also involved in the clashes, she said.
 
Witnesses said Israeli forces used a resident as a shield as they moved house to house to search of suspected militants.
 
Israel’s supreme court has ruled the practice is illegal and the army says it has respected the ruling.
 
But Palestinians and human rights groups say that in some cases the army has continued to use civilians as "human shields" during operations in crowded urban areas.
 
Troops imposed a curfew in the crowded camp of 5,000 and searched from house to house, knocking down walls to get from one building to the next, witnesses said.

Hamas to Maintain Truce  
 
Meanwhile, Hamas has said it will abide by a truce with Israel as Muslims mark the holy month of Ramadan, amid fears Israel might launch a major incursion into the Gaza Strip.
 
Taher al-Nunu, a Hamas spokesman, said: "The government confirms that it is implementing decisions of the unity government, especially the truce between the two sides."

He said Hamas had issued the statement "because we are in the middle of Ramadan and we want to give the Palestinians a chance to live in peace, reopen the crossings and end the siege".
 
However, Israel rejected the overture, calling it "ridiculous".

The truce refers to a ceasefire between the Israeli army and fighters in Gaza that has been repeatedly broken since the middle of May, just before Hamas\’ takeover of Gaza in June.

Miri Eisin, an Israeli government spokeswoman, said: "There is no question of striking any ceasefire deal with them [Hamas]. They are a terrorist organisation recognised as such by the international community that took power as a result of a putsch."

The Israeli army said two rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza on Sunday, without causing injuries or damage.
 
On Thursday, Hamas called on Palestinian fighters to stop firing rockets at border crossings between Gaza and Israel.

The border crossings are often the targets of rocket and mortar attacks and have been largely closed since Hamas took control of Gaza three months ago.

Last week, a rocket fired by Gaza fighters hit an Israeli army base, wounding scores of soldiers, most of them lightly.

Following the strike, Hamas put its forces on high alert ahead of an anticipated large-scale Israeli offensive in revenge for the rocket fire and most senior Hamas officials in Gaza have kept a low profile, fearing an attack by the Israeli military.

Meanwhile, the Israeli government held its regular Sunday cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.

Mike Hannah, Al Jazeera\’s correspondent in Jerusalem, said the meeting had created "more questions than answers".

Olmert had said that Israel would release a number of Fatah prisoners for Ramadan, which has already started.

But after the meeting it was announced that no decision would now be made on the issue until at least next week.

During the cabinet meeting, Olmert also raised the discussions he had held with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, ahead of planned peace talks in November.

Olmert had stressed to the cabinet that he had only agreed declarations of "intent" to be discussed in the peace talks rather than "principles" with Abbas.

Hannah said Palestinians would see this as "cutting short negotiations before they have really begun".

(Sources: Aljazeera Net English + Agencies)

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