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Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre   for Thursday July 27th, 2006

Two Palestinians were killed by Israeli military helicopter fire in Gaza City as the Israel army maintains its attacks in both the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank.  At the same time, the Israeli air bombardment of Southern Lebanon continues Thursday. Meanwhile the Israeli cabinet made it clear that air attacks on Lebanon are going to intensify.

These stories and more coming up.

Gaza Update

Palestinian medical sources in Gaza reported that two Palestinians were killed after an Israeli military helicopter fired a missile at a group of people who gathered east of Gaza city.  19 residents were injured in the attack.   

Two men were killed by Israeli shells in the Al Shaath area, east of Gaza city, Wednesday. Sources identified the two residents as Mohammad Kallab, 19, and Mohammad Sho’eib, 26.  They died of their wounds at a Gaza hospital.

The Al Qassam brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, said that Kallab is a member of the brigades.  In a separate attack, three residents were injured, one seriously, after the army fired tank shells at a house in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

Thursday morning, a 70-year-old woman was killed after the army fired shells into a house that belongs to the Al Najjar family, in the Abeb-Rabbo area, east of the Jabalia refugee camp, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.  A relative of the woman was also moderately injured.  A medical source at Abu Yousef Al Najjar hospital in Gaza reported that the woman was hit by shrapnel in the head.

Local sources in Gaza reported that tanks stationed east of Gaza city fired shells at a group of residents in the Al Shijaeyya neighborhood, east of Gaza City. 15 residents were injured, five of them seriously.  In the northern Gaza city of Beit Hanoun, nine-year old Mariam Al Kafarna was injured by shrapnel from a tank shell fired by the army.

Meanwhile, the Israeli air force fired missiles at several houses near the Jabalia Refugee camp and shelled a hut that belongs to a fisherman in the Al Twam area, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.  The same hut was also shelled twice on Wednesday.  In Beit Hanoun, troops demanded that residents leave an area near the Agricultural College, and several other educational institutions in preparation for military bombardment of them in the coming hours.  Army spokesperson claimed that fighters fired homemade shells at the Israeli Negev town of Sderot from that area.  Twenty-four residents, including three children, were killed by the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip, on Wednesday.

Lebanon Update

Israel continued its air bombardment in Southern Lebanon Thursday, as the Israeli Cabinet made it clear that air strikes on Lebanon are going to intensify, and ground operations will remain limited, Israel media reported.

 In the south today, three people were killed in the Bekka Valley. One woman was killed near Tyre, while two others were killed in the southern village of Kafra. The Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon said the border town of Bint Jbeil will no longer be treated as a civilian area, but as a military zone. "Everyone who is still in South Lebanon is linked to Hezbollah. We have called on all who are there to leave,” Ramon said..

Israel’s call to intensify air strikes is in response to fierce fighting along the border Wednesday that left at least 9 Israeli soldiers dead and 25 others wounded, making it the deadliest day for Israeli troops since fighting began.

Ramon, a close ally of Prime Minister Olmert, told the Israeli Army Radio that Israel is interpreting the indecision at the  Rome conference on Wednesday as a green light for more attacks.

At the conference, the U.S and Britain refused to support the international call for an immediate ceasefire, giving Israel the ‘go ahead’ to continue its attacks on Lebanon until Hezbollah is dismantled.

Several roads have been destroyed in Lebanon by Israeli air strikes and missiles, as well as a Lebanese military base and a radio rely station. 

According to the Guardian, Hezbollah fired over 150 rockets on Northern Israel today, the highest daily total since the beginning of the fighting.

Israeli public opinion for the Israeli offensive has dropped slightly in support from 90% last week to 82% after the announcement of the nine soldiers killed Wednesday. 
West Bank

Ahmad Mossa, 38, was taken prisoner by the Israeli army during an invasion to the village of Al Khadir, near the West Bank city of Bethlehem, on Thursday at dawn.

Troops and army vehicles stormed the village and surrounded Mossa’s house, before searching it and taking him to an unknown destination, eyewitnesses reported.  Mossa is the Director of the Prisoners Solidarity Society, a Palestinian NGO located in Bethlehem city that deals with prisoner’s issues.

The Israeli army also invaded the West Bank city of Nablus on Thursday morning and took Tha’er Al Aghbar as a prisoner.  Troops stormed the city and the nearby Balata refugee camp, searching several houses before taking Al Aghbar to an unknown location, eyewitnesses reported.

Meanwhile, the Israeli forces took four prisoners during wide scale searches in the West Bank city of Hebron and the nearby village of Yatta, early on Thursday morning.  Several army vehicles stormed the village and city, searching and ransacking residents’ homes, before taking the four to unknown locations.

On Thursday at dawn, three residents were taken as prisoners when troops from the Israeli army invaded the village of Beit Furiq, east of the West Bank city of Nablus. Soldiers also searched several houses before leaving the village. 

This is the second invasion in as many days.  Yesterday, the village was invaded and four residents taken. Local sources reported on Thursday morning that the Israeli army took the child, Mousa Faron, 14, as a prisoner from Al Azaria village, east of Jerusalem.  According to family members, troops stormed the family home, attacked Mousa and his brother before seizing Mousa, taking him to an unknown location.

On Thursday afternoon, sources in the Qalqilia Governorate announced the death of Hamada Da’ass, 18, a resident of Kofer Qadom village, east of the city.    Da’ass sustained injuries during a pre-dawn invasion of the village while he was standing in front of his home.  Medical sources report that injuries were sustained to his head, neck and shoulder. 

Meanwhile, during the invasion, local sources said that troops took four prisoners who were identified as: Mohamed Jo’ma, Wahid Barham, Kaiser Jo’ma and Yahid Da’ass Also in the West Bank city of Jenin, Israeli undercover forces invaded the city’s refugee camp and attacked residents, injuring three and taking one prisoner, among the injured Ali Al Samodi PNN correspondent in the city, eyewitnesses reported.

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 Maia Williams-Carpenter, Stacie Miller and Ghassan Bannoura