Gaza International Airport Runway Destroyed; America Condemns Israeli Acts in Rafah; 11 Palestinians Arrested
Israeli military forces bulldozed the runway at the Palestinian-controlled Gaza International Airport early Friday, and occupation troops closed of a main road in the Gaza Strip between Rafah and Khan Yunis, witnesses and officials said. A witness said he saw bulldozers guarded by nearly ten tanks tear up the runway at the Dahania airport in the southern Gaza Strip.
Fayez Zaidan, the Palestinian official in charge of civil aviation, stated the bulldozing of the runway was "severe." But he could not say whether it was totally demolished because Palestinian officials could not enter the region. "The information I have is that there are 10 Israeli tanks and bulldozers and they are excavating the runway," he conveyed.
Meanwhile, Israel Radio reported that an Israeli military unit stormed the Palestinian controlled village of Ibba near Nablus in the West Bank and arrested a Hamas activist overnight before withdrawing, there were no injuries in this incident.
Israeli occupation forces destroyed over 70 houses in the Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, leaving over 100 families – an estimated 700 people, homeless, according to Rafah governor Majid al-Ajha on Thursday. The governor said that the families had been moved to the camp's schools until a suitable alternative would be found. In addition, the Palestinians have declared the area a "disaster zone".
According to various reports, a dozen bulldozers and armored vehicles drove into the Rafah refugee camp early Thursday and began flattening homes, in retaliation for a Wednesday pre-dawn attack on an Israeli outpost, in which four Israeli soldiers were killed.
Firefights took place between Palestinians and Israeli troops as the bulldozers moved in, though no injuries were reported.
The Israeli Army claims that only 10 homes were destroyed. The Army spokesman's office said the destroyed buildings had been used as posts by Palestinian gunmen to fire and throw grenades at their forces. The buildings are also said to have hid a network of tunnels used for smuggling a wide range of weapons across the border.
The United States has criticized the demolition acts, claiming it would not help to bring an end to the violence. A U.S. State Department official said "we have been very clear about the need for Palestinian action against violence and terror. At the same time, we do not believe that demolitions of Palestinian property and homes can contribute to the restoration of calm and an end to violence."
An Israeli military force arrested Friday two Fatah activists in the West Bank village of Silwad, north of Ramallah. The Israelis claimed the two were suspected of carrying out shooting attacks on Israeli targets.
Furthermore, in the Gaza Strip, occupation troops arrested eight Palestinians suspected of arms smuggling south of Rafah.
The Israeli Army explained that "In response to a terrorist attack that killed an Israeli officer and three soldiers, the Israeli military went into action in several points in the southern Gaza Strip". (Albawaba.com)
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