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Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre   for Wednesday July 26th, 2006

Today’s death toll in Gaza rises to 18,  the dead two children, and further  60 injured.  Thirteen Israeli soldiers were killed and twelve were injured in ongoing gun battles in Maroun Al Ras, Bint Jbeil, and Eitaroun, in southern Lebanon, meanwhile, the Israeli army continue to take prisoners in the West Bank.

These stories and more coming up.

Gaza Update  

Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported that the number of residents killed in the continuous Israeli attack in Al Shujaeyya area, east of Gaza City has now risen to eighteen, including two children, with at least sixty residents injured.

A statement released and published by the Al Aqsa Brigades, the armed wing of Fateh, revealed that one fighter was killed and several fighters and residents were injured in an Israeli air strike that targeted a group of residents and fighters near Bahloul station, in Salah Ed Deen Street, eastern Gaza City.

Eyewitnesses reported that Israeli Apache helicopters fired at least two missiles at the residents and fighters who were gathering there.

Earlier on Wednesday, the army also shelled Jabal Al Rayyes area in Gaza.  Five Palestinians, including a 3-year old child, were killed, and at least ten were injured.  The five killed residents were identified as Salaam Al So’udy, Yahia Al So’udy, Husam Al So’udy, Saleh Hassanen, and the three-year old girl Sabah Habeeb. In Salah Ed Deen Street, one fighter identified as Yasser Khamees Banat, 22, was killed, and two residents were injured in an Israeli air strike.

In Al Sha’af area in Gaza, three fighters were killed after being targeting by the Israeli air force.  The three were identified as Mohammad Al Bahteeny, Nabil Zeino and Hani Hjeila.  One further resident, identified as Mohammad Sobhy Haniyya, was killed in a separate Israeli air strike in Al Shujaeyya neighborhood, east of Gaza city.

In the Al Qarm area of Jabalia town, in the northern Gaza Strip, one member of the Ministry of Interior’s executive force was killed by an Israeli missile fired from an Apache helicopter.  The dead man was identified as Mohammad Adas.
Furthermore, troops carried out a limited invasion into Jabalia through the Abu Safiyya area, east of the town, and bulldozed roads and farmlands. 

The Palestinian Ministry of Health has appealed to residents to donate blood, since Gaza hospitals are running out of blood supplies as a result of the vast number of injuries due to the continuous Israeli attacks.

The ministry also reported that Israeli soldiers are using bombs that include acids and phosphor, weapons that are internationally banned.
The ministry added that many of the bodies of the killed civilians have been severely mutilated and burnt by the effect of the weapons used.  Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, demanded Israel stop its military aggression that is targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure.  He stated that the Israeli targeting of civilians and children complicates the situation and pushes the area into further violence and instability.    

Lebanon Update

Thirteen Israeli soldiers were killed and twelve were injured in ongoing gun battles in Maroun Al Ras, Bint Jbeil, and Eitaroun, in southern Lebanon. The soldiers are from the Golani Brigade that invaded the areas and clashed with Hezbollah fighters, the Arabs48 news website reported.

Sources at the Hezbollah party said that its fighters ambushed Israeli soldiers in Bint Jbeil area. Israeli army sources reported that a total of 25 soldiers were “hurt” after encountering Hezbollah gunmen face to face.  The gunmen were carrying explosives and fired various missiles.  Israeli online daily Haaretz reported that “a large number of Israel Defense Forces soldiers were hurt Wednesday in fierce gun battles with Hezbollah in the southern Lebanese town of Bint Jbeil.  Haaretz added that the army was involved in efforts to retrieve the casualties, even as the heavy clashes continued.

Soldiers became involved in close-quarter fighting with Hezbollah gunmen earlier on Wednesday, despite taking control of the town earlier, Haaretz reported.

The fighting in the town has not stopped since then, while Hezbollah gunmen continued to fire at the same Israeli soldiers who claimed to be controlling the town on Tuesday.  Israeli ground and aerial forces are attempting to evacuate the killed and injured troops, while military helicopters continue to fire missiles at Hezbollah fighters, the Israeli Y-net news reported.

In spite of the losses sustained today, the Israeli army has announced that it fully controlled Bin Jbeil area on Tuesday.  Hezbollah gunmen reported that they destroyed two Israeli vehicles.  Sheikh Hasan Nasrallah, secretary-general of the Lebanon based Hezbollah party, denied the Israeli reports of controlling Bint Jbeil.

Nasrallah added that the party is not a regular army, and as it may suffer losses in certain areas, its fighters will continue to fight, and the Israeli army will continue to suffer losses in lives and equipment.  Nasrallah accused Israel of launching a psychological war to undermine Lebanese morale and of exaggerating casualties inflicted on Hezbollah.  "We do not hide our martyrs”, Nasrallah stated, “We will announce any death of our leaders or ranks, we will announce it and take pride”.

West Bank Update

Israeli army troops, backed by armored vehicles, invaded the West Bank city of Tulkarem and its refugee camp on Wednesday morning, firing live ammunition seemingly at random at residents’ houses. The Palestinian resistance group Suqur Fateh, (Fateh Hawkes) said that its members clashed with the soldiers and exchanged intensive fire with them in Tulkarem refugee camp; no injuries were reported.

On Wednesday at dawn, Israeli troops invaded the West Bank town of Yatta, south of Hebron.  Soldiers conducted searches over a wide area, notably in the areas of Al Jurfan and Wad Al Baqee; the olive groves, uninhabited old houses and caves in the area, looking for weapons and "wanted resistance men".

Their search lasted over four hours and also included stopping and searching vehicles, and holding up dozens of residents of the area.

An Israeli settler driving a car shot at two shepherds in Al Thahreyah, south of Hebron, killing three of their sheep.  Aser Al Tal, a resident of Al Thahreya reported that an armed Israeli settler, driving a car, shot at his brother Shafeeq Al Tal , 27, and  at Khaleel Bajes Al Tal, 28, who were herding their sheep in Zanuta area, east of the illegal settlement of Tina Umarim.

 The Israeli army invaded the town of Beit Furiq, east of Nablus, this morning at dawn, taking four residents as prisoners.  Ahmed Nasarah, Secretary of Beit Furiq municipality, confirmed that the soldiers broke into several houses, searching them and took four residents as prisoners.

Mr Nasasreh called for all Human Rights organizations to intervene to lift the tight closure the army has imposed on the town.
At the Yitzhar checkpoint, Mahmoud Ali Ahmed Sa’adeh was reading aloud from the Quran, defying abuse from Israeli soldiers and their orders to stop.  He was beaten until he lost consciousness, and was taken by the activist group, ‘Checkpoint Watch’ to Nablus Rafidiya hospital.  Soldiers also beat Maher Mahmoud Al Rayyan, 24, breaking his arm.

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, Roula Beitjallyahjally-el-jally, and Ghassan Bannoura