Gaza Strip is turned into a big prison

Six Palestinians were killed by Israeli army fire in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Thursday. Soldiers in the northern Gaza Strip opened fire from a tank-mounted machine gun at some stone throwing Palestinians, killing at least three, including a 13-year-old boy, and wounding nine, Palestinian hospital officials said. The fighting came while Arafat was embroiled in another power struggle with his prime minister, Ahmed Qorei, who submitted his second letter of resignation since July earlier this week. Arafat refused to accept the resignation and Qorei left in a huff on a private trip to Jordan on Thursday. It was not clear whether Qorei would stick to his decision to resign. Israeli forces exchanged fire with Palestinians on the outskirts of the sprawling Jebaliya refugee camp. One gunman was killed and three were wounded when an Israeli attack helicopter fired two missiles toward the area. The latest spiral of violence could further complicate Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to withdraw troops and settlers from the occupied Gaza Strip by the end of 2005. Palestinian militants are determined to claim any Israeli pullout as a victory, but Israel has vowed to smash them first. Condemning the incursion, Palestinian Negotiations Minister Saeb Erekat told Reuters on Wednesday: “While Israel speaks about disengagement, its army occupies large parts of the Gaza Strip... turning it into a big prison”, reports Daily Times. According to Reuters,Israeli forces thrust into Gaza's largest refugee camp on Thursday, killing four Palestinians including a 9-year-old boy, as the army tightened its grip on the northern part of the coastal strip. Scores of gunmen fought a column of tanks and armored vehicles as Israeli troops took up positions in and around the teeming Jabalya camp, a militant stronghold, in an operation the army said was aimed at stopping rocket fire into Israel. Helicopter gunships fired missiles into the camp of 100,000 inhabitants as Israeli forces sealed it off in Israel's biggest incursion in the northern Gaza Strip in months. Munir el-Deqqes was shot in the chest while playing with friends outside his grandfather's house, witnesses said. "How can anyone blame children playing in the street?" said the boy's uncle. "Munir was a victim of blind Israeli retaliation." At least 35 people, including militants and civilians, were wounded by Israeli fire, medics said. A military source said soldiers had shot only at armed men. It was the latest chapter in Israel's military response after suicide bombers killed 16 people in southern Israel last week. Israeli forces continued a major operation in Gaza today with tanks and armored vehicles to suppress rocket fire into Israel, and in the process killed seven Palestinians. In the West Bank, Israeli troops killed another Palestinian. Israeli officials continued to warn that they were considering exiling the Palestinian president, Yasir Arafat, already confined to his headquarters in Ramallah. The Israeli foreign minister, Silvan Shalom, echoed the warnings of the defense minister that "the day of Arafat's expulsion is closer than ever." He was speaking to a group of his Likud Party members. The prime minister, Ariel Sharon, approved a new route for the barrier Israel is building to counter easy entrance for suicide bombers that is much closer to the armistice line of 1949, known as the green line. The new route includes large Israeli settlements in the West Bank, like Ariel, Maale Adumim and Gush Etzion. Mr. Sharon appears to be responding to rulings of the Israeli Supreme Court and pressure from Washington. Mr. Sharon's chief of staff, Dov Weissglas, is in Washington for meetings with American officials about Israel's settlement policies and plans for disengagement from Gaza, informs the NYTimes. Read earlier news stories by PRAVDA.Ru

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