Israel Kills 6 in Gaza, West Bank

GAZA CITY — Israeli occupation forces killed on Wednesday, June 20, at least six Palestinians in attacks inside the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank.

Four Palestinian resistance activists were killed in skirmishes with Israeli troops who pushed up to a kilometer inside Gaza Strip near the main southern city of Khan Yunis, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Israeli troops working undercover in the village of Karara were discovered by Palestinian activist who fired at them using rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.

The Israeli army immediately sent reinforcements of six tanks, two armored personnel carriers and a bulldozer to the area.

The killed activists were Khaled al-Farra, 18, and Ahmed al-Abadlah, 20, from Hamas, Abed Shaath, 22, from the Islamic Jihad and a member of the Popular Resistance Committees.

At least seven Palestinians and one Israeli soldier were injured in the ensuring shootout.

Israeli soldiers occupied a number of Palestinian buildings and were conducting house-to-house raids.

The Islamic Jihad said two of its fighters survived an Israeli air strike targeting them in an open area of scrub land east of the town of Beit Hanun.

Today’s clashes were the first between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters since Hamas assumed full control over the narrow coastal territory following deadly infighting with Fatah.

Israeli troops have been operating inside the Gaza Strip since Sunday but their operations had previously been limited to areas hard by the border.

Israel has sealed off the Gaza Strip from the outside world, raising fears of a humanitarian crisis for its 1.5 million people who are entirely dependent on imports for their basic needs.

Israeli officials have vowed to isolate Hamas in Gaza and work to boost the authority of the rival Fatah.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert won strong backing for the strategy from US President George W. Bush at White House talks on Tuesday, June 19.

In Cold Blood

Earlier Wednesday, Israeli special forces shot dead two Palestinian fighters in the western town of Jenin in the northern occupied West Bank.

The slain were identified as 25-year-old Ziad Malaysheh from the Islamic Jihad and 25-year-old Ibrahim Abed from Abu Ammar Brigades, a group loosely linked to Fatah.

Witnesses said the two resistance fighters fought a die-hard battle with the advancing Israeli troops until they ran out of ammunitions.

They added that the Israelis then move in and finished off the wounded fighters.

The Israeli army said it had arrested 15 Palestinians overnight during operations across the West Bank.

Wednesday’s deaths brought to 5,752 the number of people killed since the start of Al-Aqsa Intifadah in September 2000, the vast majority of them Palestinians, according to an AFP count.

( + Agencies – June 210, 2007)

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