Large numbers of Israeli tanks and infantry moved into Hebron on Monday morning, witnesses said. The incursion came from the north, south and west, and was accompanied by attack helicopters, firing machine guns from the air.
At least nine Palestinians were killed and at least 15 people were wounded by Israeli gunfire, mostly from the helicopters, Palestinians said. Among those killed were Rajeb Abu Shami, a member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, and Ahmed Bashir, a member of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's Force 17 presidential guard.
Two aides to the head of the Tanzim in Hebron, Marwan Zallum, were also killed during the incursion. Zallum was assassinated last week by Israeli forces.
Troops took control of Palestinian Authority buildings in the city, Israel Radio said. The radio quoted Israeli military sources as saying the goal of this raid was to arrest Palestinian activists, not to occupy the city, but residents said it was the largest military operation in Hebron in months.
In the Monday incursion, which began at 4:30 a.m., Israeli troops moved about two kilometers into Hebron and appeared to be concentrating on two specific areas, the witnesses said.
Israeli forces carried out door-to-door searches for weapons and wanted operatives. Palestinian sources said that a local leader of Palestinian resistance movement Hamas had been arrested.
The attack in Hebron comes less than two days after the shooting attack in the nearby Jewish settlement of Adura, in which four Israelis were killed.
In Bethlehem, Israeli sniperrs shot dead a Palestinian in the Nativity Church compound. Palestinian sources identified the man as Nidal Abayat, a member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.(Albawaba.com)
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