Archive for Friday, July 26, 2002

Israeli tanks take to street in Gaza City

July 26, 2002

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— Israeli tanks rolled into Gaza City early today and destroyed a police post and two other buildings, the first operation there since a bombing attack killed a Hamas leader and 14 other Palestinians and drew international criticism.

Witnesses said seven tanks accompanied a bulldozer that flattened a small Palestinian military intelligence position and a metal workshop, and then soldiers blew up another workshop in a blast that could be heard all over the city.

Gunmen fired at the Israelis, and two Palestinians were wounded in the exchange, they said.

The Israeli military refused to comment. Hours earlier, a rocket hit an Israeli village just outside Gaza, causing some damage but no casualties. In the past, the Israeli military has destroyed metal workshops in Gaza, explaining that Palestinians were making mortars, rockets and shells.

The move into Gaza City came hours after Palestinian gunmen killed a rabbi and wounded another Israeli in a roadside ambush near a Jewish settlement Thursday.

Despite the violence, tentative efforts were under way to restart talks among Palestinian factions toward stopping attacks against Israel.

Palestinian and Israeli officials were to meet today to discuss easing Israeli restrictions in the West Bank, where Israeli forces have controlled seven of the eight main cities and towns.

Israeli officials continued to justify the air strike Tuesday that killed Hamas commander Salah Shehadeh, while apologizing for the civilian casualties. But international denunciations continued.

In Washington, Secretary of State Colin Powell said the Bush administration was reviewing Israel's use of U.S.-made weapons in the wake of the air strike.

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