Despite mounting pressure from the U.S. to pullback, Israel continues its military offensive in the West Bank. In Nablus, Israeli Apache helicopters and tanks fired on Palestinian targets early on Sunday, witnesses said.
It was reported that a key member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, Muyad Jamail was killed in Nablus. An Israeli military source said that the Israeli army had gained control of most parts of the kasbah, or market, and were continuing with the operation.
Fierce battles between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian gunmen raged for a second day also in the northern town of Jenin.
According to unconfirmed reports, at least eight Palestinians were killed on Sunday. Palestinian information minister Yasser Abed Rabbo on Sunday reported another five deaths in Jenin's battered refugee camp.
Palestinian sources reported also Sunday that Israeli troops were operating in two villages near Ramallah, and had made several arrests in the area. The sources told Israel Radio that Israeli tanks had surrounded the villages of Bet Rima and Dir Ghassan, and soldiers had been airlifted into the villages and were making widespread arrests.
Palestinian security officials said two Palestinians were killed in an exchange of fire with Israeli forces close to the Jewish settlement of Morag in the southern Gaza Strip.
The Israeli army's chief spokesman, Brigadier-General Ron Kitrey, said the military had received no orders to change its battle plan despite a telephone call from Bush to Sharon on Saturday night. "At the moment, things are going ahead as we planned," Kitrey told Army Radio.
However, the Israeli Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer said that, following U.S. President George Bush's speech Saturday, the time Israel has to complete the operation has become shorter.
Israel’s Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Shaul Mofaz told Sunday morning's weekly cabinet meeting that 11 Israeli soldiers and 200 Palestinians have been killed during Israel's 10-day campaign.
Mofaz added that 143 soldiers and 1,500 Palestinians have been injured so far in the operation.
There was no way to independently verify the soaring Palestinian death toll. Combat areas are blocked off, and Israel has been accused of imposing a media blackout to give it a free hand to wage its campaign. Israel says the move is to protect both soldiers and journalists. (Albawaba.com)
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