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Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre  for Thursday August 10th, 2006

Israeli war planes targeted and destroyed two homes in Beit Hanoun, Israeli army continued shelling several areas in Lebanon, two residents were injured and three were taken prisoners in an Israeli military operation in the West Bank city of Ramallah. These stories and more, coming up stay tuned.

Gaza Update
Israeli war planes targeted and destroyed two homes in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip after warning residents with a phone call to evacuate.  The planes struck in the early hours of Thursday morning on the assumption that they contained weapons caches, according to a military spokesman.

The homes belonged to two members of Islamic Jihad and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.  Neither the Palestinian fighters nor their families were injured.  The houses were demolished, one which was three stories high.  Neighboring homes endured blast damage.

Just three hours after the Rafah Border Crossing was opened Thursday, the Israeli side phoned the European observers at the crossing and ordered them to close it again for "security concerns."  The Qatar based Al Jazeera TV reported that the Crossing, which was supposed to be open for twelve hours on Thursday, is also supposed to open for twelve hours on Friday, however because Israel did not provide any further details on its decision and on what the "security concerns" are exactly, it is still unknown if the crossing will be re-open today or Friday.  

Israeli war planes struck an alleged training site for the Salah Eddin Brigade, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees Wednesday night.  The site happened to be located in a residential area.  Three Palestinians were killed, including a three-year old girl and three others were wounded.

More than 170 Palestinians, the majority of them civilians, have been killed and over a thousand injured in the Israeli military offensive against the Gaza Strip that started on June 28.  Israel claims its offensive aims at freeing a captured Israeli soldier and stopping the Palestinian resistance fighters from firing homemade Qassam shells at Israel.  Soldier Gilad Shalit was captured by Palestinian resistance fighters in a military operation carried out on June 26 in which five Israeli soldiers where killed and several were wounded.




Lebanon Update

Israeli army continued shelling several areas in Lebanon, including a historic lighthouse located in a densely populated area of Beirut.  The attack killed one man in the eastern Biqa’ valley, injured two others and damaged the top portion of the lighthouse.  The shelled lighthouse in the heart of Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, was constructed during the French colonial-era in Lebanon and is surrounded by the Saudi embassy compound, the Lebanese American University, a French school and the heavily-guarded private villa of the family of slain former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, the Naharnet online daily reported. Lebanese Television networks showed live video of the damage, with part of the tower’s roof damaged. Although the lighthouse was not in use, a senior Lebanese security official told the Associated Press it included a relay for the Radio Lebanon state station.

The official added that another relay station in the northern coastal village of Amshit was also hit by Israeli military fire. Furthermore, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a minibus driving in the eastern Biqa’ valley, killing one person and injuring twelve. The attack took place close to Rayak town, 5km east of the province of Zahle. Also, Israeli troops shelled a road that links Ba’albak and the Syrian city of Himss.  Israeli warplanes also dropped leaflets over northern Lebanon for the first time on Thursday. The leaflets warned trucks not to drive on a coastal road linking Lebanon with Syria. Leaflets also fell on Tripoli, the second largest city in Lebanon, 25km from the Syrian border and other areas, including Beddawi Palestinian refugee camp.

More leaflets dropped over downtown Beirut’s downtown surrounding neighborhoods. They threatened a "painful and strong" response to Hizbullah attacks and warned residents Hayy al Sellum, Bourj al Barajneh and Chiyah in the southern suburbs to evacuate immediately. "The Israeli Defense Forces intend to expand their operations in Beirut," the single-page leaflet read. On Thursday, Hezbollah fighters fired rockets at the Arab village of Dir al Assad in Israel seriously killing a woman and her baby daughter, medics said.

Moreover, flyers dropped over areas in northern Lebanon warned that the army will shell trucks of any kind after 8 p.m. if they drive on the northern coastal road between Lebanon and Syria.  The trucks, according to the Israeli leaflets would be "suspected of carrying rockets, military hardware and saboteurs." Also, soldiers imposed a curfew on several areas and on a town in southern Lebanon since early Tuesday.

The Naharnet, added Roland Huguenin, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, said Israel has repeatedly denied a request to reach "a whole list of places," including a plan to rescue a family believed to be trapped in an abandoned orphanage in Maarub, about 20 kilometers from Tyre.

According to Red Cross statistics, 33,000 people are still living in villages in southern Lebanon, another 27,000 are still in Tyre,  and 40,000 Palestinian refugees remain in four camps in southern Lebanon.
The West Bank Update

Two residents were injured and three were taken prisoner in an Israeli military operation in the West Bank city of Ramallah, which started Thursday morning.  The three prisoners are members of  Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah. Local sources said clashes took place between the activists and Israeli troops who surrounded them in the Al Murjan building in the Am Asharayit area in the city. The building is located near the headquarters of the Palestinian intelligence.

Mahmod Jabarein sustained a hand injury during clashes between Israeli soldiers and local youth. He was rushed to the city’s public hospital for treatment, medical sources reported.  The identity of the other person remains unknown. Maan News also reported that the three activists taken prisoner were identified as Ramzi Obeido, Iyad Al Froukh and Murad Al Malhi. The army left behind a considerable amount of damage to the residents’ homes in the surrounded building and the streets around it, eyewitnesses reported.

Also, the Israeli army took four prisoners from the West Bank city of Tulkarem and neighboring villages in a morning invasion Thursday. In Kofer Zeid, troops stormed the residents houses, searched and ransacked them, then took Ahmad Ghaniem, 35 and his brother Maher, 30.  Both work in the Palestinian security forces in the city, local residents reported.

Meanwhile, troops stationed at Beit Iba military checkpoint at the Tulkarem entrance took Montaha Boshnak, 21, and Hia Mazen, 20, while they were trying to cross the checkpoint to go to their university located in the West Bank city of Nablus. The Israeli army invaded Nablus and took Thursday morning five prisoners, among them was a girl. According to local residents the military operation started late Wednesday night in which troops stormed residents’ homes in the city and the nearby Balata refugee camp.

The prisoners were identified as Mohamed Al Hindi, 21, Mohamed Faraj, 18, Faiez Ba’ara, 20, and another two were arrested at a nearby military checkpoint, including a girl, eyewitnesses reported.  Their names remains unknown.  Residents said that the soldiers fired live rounds at the residents’ houses during the invasion; damage was reported but there were no injures. Security sources in the city said that with the addition of the five prisoners, the army has now taken nine  9 in the last 36 hours.

Also the army took Mostafa Melehm, 16, from the village of Kofer Ra’ie near the West Bank city of Jenin Thursday morning.  While in Hebron city in the West Bank, the army took three prisoners after storming several areas in the city and searching residents’ homes.

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 Jacque Shoen, Vivian Tabar & Ghassan Bannoura