Archive for Sunday, September 16, 2001

Israeli forces fire missiles on Palestinian targets in Gaza

September 16, 2001

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— Israeli forces fired missiles from the air and from the ground Saturday at three separate Palestinian security targets in the Gaza Strip, injuring 12 Palestinians and damaging buildings, witnesses and officials said.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said the Israeli strikes were intended to scuttle truce talks that had been tentatively planned for today between him and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.

"This escalation is aimed at sabotaging the meeting with Peres," Arafat said in Gaza City, not far from the scene of one attack.

The raids came a day after President Bush called Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to press for Mideast truce talks. But Sharon is insisting that Arafat must first take action against militants, and an Arafat-Peres meeting, tentatively set for today, was off for now.

The Israeli actions, carried out with helicopters and ground-based missile launchers, sent panicked people running into the streets and black plumes of smoke into the sky. The 12 injured Palestinians included at least five policemen, the Palestinians said.

Israeli helicopters sent missiles into a Palestinian security compound in Gaza City, and also hit a security position in the Nusseirat refugee camp just outside the city, witnesses said.

Israeli forces also fired missiles that slammed into a police station in Rafah, at the southern end of Gaza.

Israel's military cited two reasons for the raids: a Palestinian attack Friday that wounded two Israeli policemen, and Israel's belief that the security buildings were being used to train and arm militants.

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