Israeli forces re-invade Nablus, kill civilian in Gaza Strip as number of settlers rises

Published December 30th, 2003 - 02:00 GMT

Israeli occupation soldiers on Tuesday shot and killed a Palestinian civilian in the Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis, local sources reported. They added soldiers, deployed near the settlement of "Morag" opened fire at Fadl al Najar, 22, who was walking outside his home. Al Najar was wounded in the chest but later died of his wounds. 


In the West Bank, Israeli forces re-invaded Nablus early Tuesday, exchanging gunfire with Palestinian fighters and clamping a curfew on the ancient quarter of this city, Palestinian witnesses said.  


Israeli forces had redeployed around Nablus on Monday after a two-week operation - focused around the Balata refugee camp - in which soldiers arrested dozens of Palestinians.  


Early Tuesday, occupation troops moved into Nablus' Old City, forcing about 40,000 people to stay in their homes and keeping schoolchildren at home, the witnesses said, according to The AP. Troops forced residents out of their homes to conduct searches, they added.  


No casualties were reported in the gunfights.  


An Israeli army spokesman said the "terror infrastructure" was continuing to operate in Nablus. He said one palestinian had been arrested overnight.  


Palestinians demand that Israel stop its raids on their cities and towns, charging that innocent people are killed or injured and entire populations are subjected to collective punishment in the form of curfews.  


Meanwhile, a new report by the Israeli Interior Ministry indicated Tuesday that the settlement population has increased 16 percent - to more than 236,000 as of Dec. 1 - during the nearly three years that Ariel Sharon has been prime minister.  


According to the report, in some settlements the population increased significantly: for instance, in the Gaza Strip settlement of Kfar Darom, the population increased by 52 percent over the past three years; the population of Netzarim grew by 24 percent during the same period of time; the number of settlers in the West Bank settlement of Tapuah, near Nablus, grew by 50 percent and in Yitzhar – by 30 percent.  


The USbacked peace plan - the “roadmap” - which was put forward by the “Quartet” of Middle east peace mediators specifically demands Israel to stop all settlement activity on land Israel occupied in 1967. (

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