An Israeli soldier was killed Tuesday morning near the Neveh Dekalim settlement in the Gaza Strip. The soldier was seriously injured after being shot in the head and died of his wounds later. Hamas claimed responsibility for the killing.
Two Israeli cobra helicopters were dispatched in the direction of Khan Yunis to seek out the attackers. A 15-year-old Palestinian boy from Khan Yunis was also killed in the gunfight, Palestinian sources said.
In the West Bank, Palestinian sources said two Palestinians were killed and at least one injured as Israeli troops entered Tulkarem and took over its refugee camp early Tuesday morning. However, Israeli sources said only one armed Palestinian was killed. Israeli soldiers were conducting house-to-house searches in the camp and helicopters assisted the troops.
Israel Radio quoted Israeli military officials as saying there was an extensive “terror infrastructure” in Tulkarem, responsible for many attacks on Israeli targets.
The raid on Tulkarem came hours after the Israeli pullback from the West Bank city of Bethlehem, beginning the implementation of "Gaza First" plan. Palestinian security forces completed early Tuesday morning their deployment in Bethlehem, and Palestinian policemen were patrolling near Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity.
The United States welcomed the deal, which also calls for Israel to withdraw from parts of Gaza and for the Palestinians to take over security duties in the newly vacated areas. The State Department said it could lead to further peacemaking steps.
The Bethlehem withdrawal began late Monday and residents said the last Israeli troops had departed by early Tuesday morning. Palestinian police began patrolling the town. An Israeli army spokesman and public radio confirmed the troops had pulled out of Bethlehem and the nearby areas of Beit Sahur, Beit Jala, and the Dheisheh refugee camp and that curfews imposed by the army had been lifted. "The redeployment is aimed to enable the Palestinians to act against terrorism and restore daily life," an Israeli military statement said.
In Gaza Strip, Palestinian police checked papers of drivers on a main northern road on Monday. Police officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, linked the checks to the new agreement, saying they would implement all aspects of it, according to AP.
In another development, the head of Palestinian preventive security in the Gaza Strip said his men had detained a man accused of betraying the slain military chiefs of Hamas and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades to Israel.
Colonel Rashid Abu Shbak said his forces arrested two weeks ago the "collaborator" who had guided Israeli forces to kill Salah Shehade, the head of Hamas' military arm, the Ezzedin al-Qassam Brigades, and Jihad al-Omarayn, head of the Fatah armed wing.
Al-Omarayn, a colonel in the Palestinian security forces, was killed together with Wael Al-Nimra, his nephew and bodyguard, when a bomb blew apart their car in Gaza City on July 4.
Abu Shbak identified the man arrested as Akram Mohammed al-Zatma, a 22-year-old student from Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.
Zatma will appear in court in the coming days, Abu Shpak said.
Meanwhile, the military wing of Fatah movement announced Monday that it rejects the Gaza - Bethlehem plan. The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, said in a leaflet the plan "would only bring the Palestinian people more humiliation, insult and surrender" and the agreement was made "to save Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon from failing."
"Because of the Intifada and our attacks, the Israeli government has been witnessing a crisis. This deal save Sharon's government and helps the U.S, the head of terrorism to strike on Iraq," said the leaflet.
It noted that the agreement "shows that the Zionist army exhausted and its aggression had failed despite of the tightened and tough measures imposed on the Palestinian people." (Albawaba.com)
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