Israel Says Jenin Fight to End Soon, Nablus Clashes Continue
Palestinians fought fierce battles with Israeli troops in the West Bank on Sunday, showing stiff resistance in the crowded Jenin refugee camp and in the winding alleyways of Nablus' Old City.
Meanwhile, the head of the United Nations agency responsible for Palestinian refugees has called on the Israeli army to end its "pitiless assault" on civilian refugee camps in Nablus and Jenin.
"We are getting reports of pure horror," said Unrwa chief Peter Hansen." That helicopters are strafing civilian residential areas; that systematic shelling by tanks has created hundreds of wounded; that bulldozers are razing refugee homes and that food and medicine will soon run out."
At least 14 Palestinians were killed Sunday in Nablus.
Israeli tanks and troops maintained their positions just outside Arafat's office in the town of Ramallah, but for the fourth straight day the fighting was focused on Nablus and Jenin in the northern part of the West Bank.
Palestinians said gunmen held Israeli troops at bay on the edge of the Old City in Nablus. Israel called in attack helicopters to fight the Palestinian gunmen.
Israeli tanks were shelling targets in Nablus on Sunday afternoon, witnesses said. Nablus Governor Mahmoud Aloul said there were dead bodies in an old mosque and 65 of the wounded were receiving treatment there because ambulances could not get in.
Among those killed Sunday was Ahmed Tabouk, 38, a local leader linked to Arafat's Fatah movement. His body was in a field as gunbattles kept Palestinians from retrieving it.
Israel’s Army spokesman Brig. Gen. Ron Kitrey told The Associated Press that "we are on the verge of ending the fighting in the refugee camp." But he added that soldiers would seek to round up activists and would not immediately leave the area. "The resistance was very tough, perhaps tougher than expected," he said.
In Bethlehem, a standoff between Israeli forces and gunmen and clerics holed up in the Church of the Nativity continued for a sixth day. Through the night, Israeli soldiers using loudspeakers demanded that the gunmen surrender, but they remained inside the church marking the traditional birthplace of Jesus.
In Gaza, meanwhile, Israeli soldiers shot and killed two Palestinians who were planting a large bomb near a Jewish settlement, the military said.
Israelis and Palestinians were exchanging gunfire Sunday evening near Netzer Hazani, a Jewish settlement in the Gush Katif area of the Gaza Strip, Israeli reports said.
A group of armed Palestinians had apparently been found nearby. Palestinians also reportedly fired mortar shells on the Jewish settlement of Netzarim.
Earlier in the evening, Palestinians reportedly fired at a bus in the West Bank, causing some damage. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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