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Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre   for Monday July 24th, 2006

Israeli soldiers used heavy artillery to shell civilian areas in Gaza killing three residents and injuring fifteen others. Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah stated that Israel’s ground invasion into South Lebanon will not prevent Hezbollah from firing rockets into Northern Israel. Meanwhile, the Israeli army continues its attacks on civilians in the West Bank. These stories and more coming up, stay tuned.

Gaza Update

On Monday afternoon, Israeli soldiers used heavy artillery to shell civilian areas in the Abraj Al Nada area, north of Beit Lahia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, killing three residents, including a child, and injuring fifteen others.

Palestinian medical sources reported that the Israeli army fired shells towards residential tower block number 10, killing three residents.  Three of the fifteen residents injured remain in serious condition.  The residential tower was badly damaged during the strike, and hundreds of residents have fled their homes fearing further Israeli attacks. 

Dr. Muawiya Hassanen, head of the Emergency Unit at the Palestinian Ministry of Health, said that two of the killed residents were identified as Sadeq Abdul-Raouf Nasser, 27, and a nurse identified as Sa’adi Ahmad Na’im, 30.

The body of the third civilian killed in the attack, a Palestinian child, was severely mutilated and dismembered, which made it difficult to identify him immediately.  The child was later identified as Saleh Ibrahim Nasser, 15 years old. A Palestinian source reported on Monday that the Israeli Air Force shelled a house that belongs to a leader of Islamic Jihad in Gaza city.  Resistance fighters of Islamic Jihad’s Al Quds Brigades responded by firing homemade shells at Al Majdal, southern Israel.

Israeli military sources reported that one of the three shells struck close to a “sensitive facility”, but did not reveal any further information. Furthermore, the Al Aqsa Brigades, the armed wing of the Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for firing two homemade shells at the Israeli Negev town of Sderot.

The two armed wings reported in separate press releases that the shelling comes in retaliation to the continuous Israeli attacks against Palestinian and Lebanese civilians. The Palestinian Ministry of Health said on Monday that Israeli Occupation Forces have killed 39 first aid workers, doctors, ambulance drivers and nurses since the start of its "Summer Rain" military operation on June 28th, 2006.

In a statement, the Palestinian Ministry of Health revealed that the occupying Israeli military denied access to 23 ambulances belonging to the Ministry of Health and the Palestine Red Crescent Society, as well as seizing bodies of victims from ambulances in several governorates across the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Nasrallah: Ending rocket attacks will have no political results   

Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah stated on Monday that Israel’s ground invasion into South Lebanon will not prevent Hezbollah from firing rockets into Northern Israel.

In response to reports of diplomatic efforts to end the fighting, Nasrallah said his main concern is ending the Israeli attacks on Lebanon, though he is additionally open to discussing other initiatives.

He also ruled out any negotiations unless it involved a prisoner swap, in which Hezbollah would free the two Israeli soldiers in exchange for Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails.

The Israeli Army Chief of Staff, Dan Halutz, responded to Nasrallah’s statement, stating that the aim of the Israeli military operation is to strike the terrorists and capture whoever could be taken.

According to a senior air force officer, Halutz was also reported to have ordered the air force to blast 10 buildings in South Beirut for every rocket Hezbollah shoots at the Israeli city of Haifa.  Hundreds of Lebanese civilians have already been killed in the
13-day offensive, while bombardment has caused severe damage to civilian complexes such as schools, hospitals, residential buildings and commercial properties, including the largest milk factory in the Bekka valley and the Lebanese Broadcasting Channel television station, both of which were hit over the weekend.

Layal Nejib, 23, a photographer for the Lebanese magazine Al-Jaras, was killed by an Israeli air strike on her taxi in southern Lebanon yesterday.  Although she is the first journalist to have been killed in the conflict, at least eleven other news teams have been directly hit by Israeli strikes, and a technician with the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation was killed Saturday when a missile hit the station’s transmission tower.

The West Bank Update

Israeli forces have invaded Al Doha town west of the West Bank city of Bethlehem and took Ra’ed Zakaria, 28, as a prisoner on Monday at dawn. 

Troops invaded the town from several directions, surrounding Zakaria’s house before searching it and ransacking his family belongings.  The soldiers then took him to an unknown location.

Also this morning, the Israeli army stationed military checkpoints at the entrances of the West Bank cities of Tulkarem and Jenin, preventing residents from traveling to Nablus.  Troops only allowed passage to residents who have ANORWA ID cards and those aged over 60 years old.  A few ambulances were also allowed to go through.  The Israeli army clamed that they are putting the three cities under total siege. Soldiers forced scores of people to go back, as residents tried to use unpaved farm roads, adding to the duration and difficulty of their travels.

Also today, the Israeli army took three prisoners on a pre-dawn invasion to Bel’a village and Nor Shames refugee camp near the West Bank city of Tulkarem.

Several army jeeps stormed Nor Shames refugee camp, and soldiers conducted a widescale house to house search campaign of residents’ houses before taking Fou’ad Ghanam, 22 and Yousif Zindek, 18, to unknown locations.

Meanwhile, another company of soldiers invaded the nearby village of Bel’a, searching several houses and ransacking them before taking Mohamed Amer also to an unknown location.

The Israeli Army took two more prisoners on Monday morning, one at a military checkpoint bear Araba village and another during an invasion to Sannor village.  Both villages are to the West of the West Bank city of Jenin.  Mohamed Abni Odah was arrested at the military checkpoint at the entrance of Araba, on his way to work, troops stopped the car he was in before forcing him to strip naked.  The troops then took him to an unknown location, eyewitnesses reported.

Mohamed Habiba, 33, was also taken to an unknown location after troops stormed his family home, ransacked the place and forced the family into the street at gunpoint.

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 James Brownsell Stacie Miller and Ghassan Bannoura