Tension Flares amid Israeli Raids

Two civilians have been injured in air raids on Gaza by Israeli forces, according to Palestinian emergency services officials, while the Israeli military says a projectile has been fired on Israel.

A military spokesman said it was launched from the Gaza Strip into the southern Eshkol region on Sunday. No casualties or damage were reported.

The Israeli army confirmed the air raids by its fighter jets, saying that they were carried out in response to Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli territory on Saturday.

Two people were wounded in one raid, which targeted the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza. The other attack, on the Jabaliya refugee camp in the north of Gaza, did not result in any causalities.

An Israeli spokesman said one of the raids targeted a Hamas centre, while the other was aimed at an arms workshop. Hamas has governed Gaza since winning a power struggle with Fatah in 2006.

Tensions have been rising in Gaza in recent weeks, with Palestinian fighters in the territory firing a series of rockets at Israel, which has retaliated with air raids.

West Bank Death

In yet another incident on Sunday, Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian man who approached a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank holding a bottle, according to Israeli and Palestinian officials.

An Israeli military spokesperson said the man who was killed at the checkpoint did not heed orders to halt, and he was fired upon as he continued to approach Israeli soldiers.

The man, who was in his early twenties, was shot in the chest and leg, according to a Palestinian medical worker who collected the body from the Israeli military checkpost near the city of Nablus.

The military spokesperson said she did not know what the contents of the glass bottle were, but that the "soldiers apparently felt threatened".

Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, condemned the shooting, terming it a "dangerous escalation".

Shin Bet Arrests

The developments came as Israeli officials announced that police and agents of the Shin Bet security service arrested in November 2010 five Arab men suspected of involvement in a plot to fire a rocket on a Jerusalem football stadium.

A Shin Bet statement said on Sunday that two of the men, Mussa Hamada and Bassem Omari, had been active in the Islamic movement Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood in Jerusalem.

The two were formally charged with "membership in and support for a terrorist organisation, firearms offences and conspiracy to commit a crime", the statement said.

The three other men had earlier been charged with trafficking in weapons, the statement said.

Omari was described by Shin Bet as an Israeli citizen who was a resident of the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Beit Safafa.

Hamada and the three other men were described as residents of East Jerusalem, a term that Israel uses to describe Palestinians who are authorised to live in Jerusalem but do not have Israeli citizenship.

The Shin Bet statement was the first news of the arrests.

It said the suspects began plotting an attack after Israel’s December 2008-January 2009 war on Gaza, and had planned to target the 21,000-capacity Teddy Stadium during a football match.

The security agency said that the men had carried out surveillance of the site, and had obtained several pistols. They were also allegedly attempting to procure a rifle and explosives.

Shin Bet also said the group had received support from the Muslim Brotherhood in Saudi Arabia.
(Agencies via Aljazeera English)

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