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Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre   for Wednesday July 19th, 2006

At least 55 Palestinians were injured, including children, and 6 others killed as Israeli troops invaded the refugee camp of Maghazi in central Gaza. // The Israeli Army continues its offensive in Nablus, three killed, twenty-six injured, including two reporters. // The Lebanese death toll now stands at 295 with 54 killed today as Israeli Aircraft hit central Beirut // and the latest Katyusha attack targeting Nazareth city in Israel kills three
These stories and more coming up, stay tuned.

Gaza Update

Israeli troops today invaded the refugee camp of Maghazi in central Gaza.  This action is part of the three week siege that Gaza has been enduring since the abduction of an Israeli soldier and the killing of two others by Palestinian resistance fighters on July 25th.

Since the incursion began this morning, at least 70 Palestinians have been injured, including children, and 6 others killed.  According to Al-Aqsa Hospital in Beir El-Balah, the victims are Mohammad Al Bashiti, 25, Ali Najar, 18, Saed Kundeel, 21, Omar Sarhan Abu Mehessen, 21, Ahmas Aawad, 18.

At least 2 houses and an elementary school were hit by Israeli missiles. Israeli forces occupied the East of central Gaza, the Maghazi camp borders and residential areas. Houses are also being occupied and used as sniper posts to aim at civilians. In addition, tanks are roaming through the camp demolishing everything in their path.

Dr. Jom’a Al Saka, the spokesperson of Al Shifa hospital describes the situation:


"There are more than 70 injured and 6 killed, there were attacks on medics, with injuries reported among them and they are being treated in the hospitals. The Israelis are using the same weapons they used in the north of Gaza which we believe to be illegal, unconventional weapons."

The invasion of Al Maghazi was preceded by hours of tank movements on the Israeli side and exchanges of fire between soldiers and Palestinian resistance fighters.
Also in Gaza, this morning at dawn, the Palestinian News Agency, WAFA, reported that Israeli soldiers fired shells that fell close to a United Nations convoy while they were driving out of Gaza. 
Yesterday evening, Israeli soldiers fired artillery shells on areas in the eastern and northern parts of the Gaza Strip.  Most of the shelled areas are industrial zones, and no injuries were reported.

Several shells were also fired at a residential area and industrial workshops east of Gaza city. A Palestinian worker at the industrial area reported that the shells forced companies and factories to close down to escape the shelling.

Also today, soldiers shelled several areas in Beit Hanoun, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, several hours after troops withdrew from the town.  

Dr. Fayez Abu Shammaleh, mayor of Khan Younis, denounced the ongoing Israeli attacks that destroyed the infrastructure of the town and its agricultural areas.
Army continues its offensive in Nablus, three killed, twenty-six including two reporters injured 

The Israeli invasion in the West Bank city of Nablus continued, leaving three residents killed, and 26 injured, including two reporters. Among the injured was Dr. Ghassan Hamdan, head of the Palestinian Medical Relief Committees in the city.

The offensive started at around 3:00 AM, as more than 50 army vehicles invaded the city and surrounded the jail.  Soldiers asked both the police officers and the inmates to remove their clothes, eyewitnesses reported.   A gun battle erupted after an army bulldozer started destroying parts of the outside wall of the facility, which resulted in the deaths of three officers inside the compound.

 Dr. Hamdan was injured in his right leg by a rubber-coated bullet. Two other medics were injured by rubber-coated bullets shot by the army.  The Israeli military offensive continued with army bulldozers starting to demolish the Palestinian Security Forces facility and the building of the Ministry of Interior.  Soldiers, tanks and jeeps are still in the city, surrounding the prison and a Palestinian security compound that belong to the Palestinian Authority, local sources report.   Soldiers also broke into the Palestinian Ministry of Heath, in the same area, and occupied it.

Dr. Ghassan Hamdan reports from Nablus:

"There are more than 30 injuries.  Most of them are among the youth who were throwing stones at the army in the area. Most of the injuries are in the upper body caused by rubber coated bullets, except three critical injuries from live rounds to the head.  In addition, the army was initially firing at ambulances and their crews, and caused some injuries and damage to the cars. Two reporters were injured too."

 Meanwhile, a reporter working for Al Hurra American based TV station was also shot by the army. Faten Elwan was moved to a nearby hospital for treatment.

During the offensive, troops attacked reporters of the Qatar-based Al Jazeera TV and injured one crew member, shooting him while he was covering the events unfolding before him.  The attack on the Muqaatah building resulted in the deaths of four PA security officers and more than 30 people injured, among them a child.

The Palestinian WAFA News Agency reported that soldiers occupied several houses overlooking at the Old City of Nablus and fired rounds of live ammunition at several residences in the area.  The Israeli invasion comes less than 24 hours after resistance fighters detonated an explosive charge near military jeeps, killing one Israeli soldier and injuring three others during an army incursion to the city.

Furthermore, soldiers shot tear gas bombs and rubber-coated bullets at several houses in the schools neighbourhood. One reporter of the Palestinian News Agency WAFA was injured after the army broke into the WAFA office in the city. She was identified as Mona Al Fares.

In separate incidents, one resident was seriously injured after the army fired rounds of live ammunition at youths who gathered near the Palestinian Authority Headquarters in the city.  Soldiers also surrounded a school in the city and destroyed its main gate.

Meanwhile local sources are saying that there are clashes all over the besieged area and several other places in the city between residents throwing stones and the army firing both live rounds and rubber coated bullets.
The Lebanese death toll now stands at 295 with 54 killed today as Israeli Aircraft hit central Beirut and latest Katyusha attack targeted Nazareth city in Israel kills  three
The Lebanese death toll now stands at 295 with 54 killed today as Israeli Aircraft hit central Beirut for the first time, as well as repeating their assaults on its north and east suburbs.  One air strike destroyed at least 15 homes in the village of Srifa, killing at least 12, including several children, and injuring 30.
Five civilians were killed in the town of Maarabun, near Baalbek, after Israeli missiles struck their houses.  Israel also hit targets in Tyre, Luci, west of Bekaa, and the Al-Nabisheet area near Baalbek, as well as the towns, Chuweifat and Hadath.  Israeli warplanes also struck a bridge in the southern city of Sidon, and houses in two other southern villages, killing and injuring more Lebanese.
The World Health Organization expects the number of Lebanese residents displaced from their homes to reach 900,000 by the end of today.  Over one hundred thousand people have already fled to Syria.
The Red Cross and UNIFIL, the UN peacekeeping force in South Lebanon, has said it has been unable to deliver humanitarian aid to stranded civilians because it could not guarantee the safe passage of aid workers.  Last week, Israeli fire hit an ambulance run by the Lebanese Red Crescent.
Israeli warplanes today pounded bases of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine near the Syrian border. In clashes between Hezbollah fighters and Israeli troops in  Southern Lebanon, 2 Israeli soldiers were killed, and six others were injured. One Hezbollah fighter died.
A massive wave of Katyusha rockets battered northern Israel from around 3 P.M. Wednesday, with reports of strikes in Haifa, Carmiel, Tiberias and communities in the Galilee.  Some 70 Katyushas were fired at Israel within the space of one hour. There were no reports of injuries, although houses in Carmiel and Tiberias sustained direct hits.
The latest Katyusha attack targeted Nazareth city in northern Israel, killing three, including two brothers, 3 and 7 years old. A further 17 people were injured.
Efforts by Kofi Annan have been made to broker a cease-fire which Israel has refused. Israel declared that it needed 2 more weeks to finish its operations.  The US has said that one week is all it will give Israel and then negotiations must begin.
Thanks for joining us from Occupied Bethlehem.  You have been listening to Palestine Today for the International Middle East Media Centre, brought to you by Roula Beitjally, James Brownsell and Ghassan Bannoura