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Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre  for Thursday August 24th, 2006.

Army tanks continue to shell areas in the Gaza strip killing Two on Thursday. Meanwhile in the West Bank the army continues to target civilians and takes prisoners, these stories and more coming up stay tuned.

The Gaza update

Israeli soldiers fired overnight artillery shells at fighters of the Al Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad Movement, killing one fighter and injuring three others. The fighters were attempting to cross into Israeli areas, Israeli military sources reported. A source from the Islamic Jihad said that Mustafa Mansour was killed east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Medics managed to retrieve his body on Thursday. The injured fighters were moved to local hospitals in Khan Younis.
Local source in Khan Younis reported that exchanges of gun fire were heard in the al Faraheen area in Khan Younis before the soldiers fired artillery shells. On Thursday morning, one resident was killed and one was arrested when Israeli troops supported by tanks and military bulldozers invaded Al Faraheen area, east of Khan Younis. During the attack, soldiers abducted Younis Abu Doka, a Hamas Leader who works as a teacher at the Islamic University in Gaza.

Under-cover forces of the Israeli army stormed the house of Yousef Abu Doka, and the house of Yousef’s brother, Younis and killed him before abducting Yousef. Medical sources reported that Younis was shot from close range in the head and chest and died instantly. The houses of Yousef and Younis were shelled by the Israeli air force and were completely destroyed. The two houses are shelters for 20 members of the family.

A group, calling themselves the Holy Jihad Brigades, a faction which was not previously known in Gaza, has threatened to kill the two Fox News journalists kidnapped 9 days ago, if the American government does not release all Muslim prisoners in its jails within the next 72 hours. Holy Jihad said that the clock begins on Wednesday at 12:00, the 29th of Rajab 1447 in the Islamic calendar. They did not use the Christian calendar.

The kidnappers released a video cassette and statement in which the journalists described their conditions. Observers noted that this is the first time that any group has threatened to kill those that they kidnapped, as all other similar kidnappings ended peacefully. Olaf Wiig, a New Zealander cameraman, and Steve Centanni, an American journalist, were reporting for the media network Fox News, when they were kidnapped in Gaza City by a previously unknown group of gunmen, on Monday August 14th.
The West Bank Update

Bilal Rizek, age 25, a resident of Hendaza neighborhood in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, was taken prisoner by the Israeli Army during a pre-dawn invasion of the city, early Tuesday morning. The man was taken to an unknown location after soldiers conducted a mass search campaign in his neighborhood, which included destroying and ransacking his family’s home, as well as the houses of many other families. Meanwhile, the Israeli army has intensified its sudden checkpoints and invasions around the city. Recently, Wadil Nar Road, the main road that connects the city with the rest of the other West Bank cities, has been the location of intensive army checkpoints. The army is searching civilian vehicles, checking ID cards of residents, and at times delaying them for several hours.

Israeli army troops stormed the West Bank city of Jenin and the nearby village of Azzon Thursday morning and took 12 prisoners. More than 20 army vehicles invaded both the city and the village, and shot randomly at residents’ homes. Soldiers conducted a house-to-house search campaign taking 10 residents all said to be members of Hamas. Among the detainees are three members of the municipal council, the mayor Wajeh Qawass, Dr. Hashem Al Massri, and Bilal Sowilwm, were all taken to an unknown location, eyewitnesses reported. Meanwhile, another force invaded Azzon village east of Qalqilia city and arrested brothers Ahmad and Muhammad Odwan after searching scores of houses including theirs, local sources reported.

Ma’mun Shehada, 22 from the village of Tamon east of the West Bank city of Tubas was arrested at an Israeli military checkpoint near the village on Thursday morning. Eyewitnesses said that Israeli soldiers installed a sudden checkpoint at the village entrance and were stopping residents who were going to their work and schools, they stopped Shehada searched him then took him to an unknown location.

Israeli army soldiers stationed at the Hamra checkpoint in the Jordan valley area took one Palestinian civilian as a prisoner Thursday morning. Eyewitnesses said that the man was stopped at the checkpoint searched him, than they took him away. His name and his destination remains unknown. Israeli army took three prisoners from the village of Sa’er north east of the West Bank city of Hebron in a  pre dawn village invasion on Thursday. The three were known as Hashem Al Mator, 33, Ayoub Jaradat, 25, and Ayeman Al Halalia, all were taken to an unknown location after troops searched and ransacked their houses along with other houses in the city.

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 Lina Talhami , Dina Awwad & Ghassan Bannoura