Israeli Troops Pull Out of Jenin Refugee Camp; PA Official Says Contacts With Israel Suspended
Israeli troops pulled out from the West Bank refugee camp of Jenin on Saturday morning, Israel Radio reported. The soldiers have assumed new positions surrounding the camp and are sometimes reentering.
The Israeli army continues to operate in the Balata refugee camp, located near the West Bank city of Nablus. At least six Palestinians and one Israeli soldier were killed during exchanges of fire between Israeli troops and armed Palestinians Friday in the second day of Israeli raids on these two refugee camps. At least 30 other Palestinians were wounded Friday.
In addition to the soldier killed on Friday, another was seriously wounded by gunfire during the incursion into the Jenin camp, the Israeli army said.
"There will be no contacts, neither security nor political ones as long as the destructive Israeli aggression continues against our camps," Palestinian official Ahmad Abdelrahman told AFP.
He added that there were "no security or political contacts with the government" of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, "which invades our camps and cities and imposes a blockade, killing our children."
Earlier, a senior Palestinian security official said that an Israeli-Palestinian meeting Thursday on security issues had been "useless" but would not rule out another meeting.
A senior member of the military wing of Hamas was one of at least six Palestinians killed. He was identified as Haled Jamal Nazam, a senior activist in the Jenin camp. Among the six killed was also a 10-year-old girl, who was killed while standing near the window of her Jenin home, Palestinian sources said.
The Israeli army said Friday that at least 20 armed Palestinians were killed since the Israeli raid on the refugee camps began.
In the Jenin camp, about 250 armed men were surrounded by Israeli tanks and snipers on rooftops, witnesses said. The gunmen sought cover in homes and in narrow alleys.
"We are in a trap," one gunman, Jamal Hweel, told The Associated Press by phone.
Hweel said many fighters had explosives belts strapped to their bodies, and had placed homemade bombs at the entrances of alleys. He said they would not surrender, adding, "We want to die together."
In Balata, Israeli troops destroyed the house of Nasser Awais, commander of the Al Aqsa Brigades in the camp, the Fatah-linked group that has claimed responsibility for many recent attacks.
"They came and forced my family out and used explosives," Awais said in a telephone interview from his hiding place. "They couldn't arrest me or kill me so they took revenge by demolishing my house." Awais said he and most of his followers have slipped out of Balata, but would keep fighting.
Meanwhile, three settlers were lightly injured Friday evening when Palestinian gunmen fired at Gilo. Six apartments were damaged in the firing.
In the Gaza Strip, meanwhile, a seven-year-old boy was shot dead by Israeli soldiers while playing outside his home, and a 15-year-old deaf mute lost a leg when he was hit by a tank shell while collecting wood, Palestinian security sources said.
Israel said that its troops killed two Palestinians trying to place explosing devices near the Nahal Oz settlement, Army Radio reported Friday. (Albawaba.com)
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