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Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre  For Wednesday October 18th, 2006.

The death toll in the Gaza strip reaches four since Tuesday night, while in the West Bank the army attacks cities and takes prisoners. These stories and more coming up, stay tuned.

The Gaza Update

Israeli army tanks and bulldozers invaded the Rafah crossing area in Rafah city, south of the Gaza Strip and killed two civilians on Wednesday at dawn. Palestinian medical sources identified the two as Ashraf Al Mu'asher, 26, and Mohamed Abu Arar, 28. Both were moved to Abu Yousif Al Najar Hospital in Rafah.

The Israeli army invaded Rafah and advanced 700 meters inside the city and surrounded the Rafah border crossing to Egypt, trapping scores of Palestinian Authority security officers inside.

Tanks opened their heavy machine guns and fired shells randomly at neighboring houses, killing the two. They also took five residents prisoner from the Abu Mo'amer family to an unknown location. Soldiers took over some homes in the invaded area, forced families into one room and took sniper positions on the roofs, local sources said.  Medical sources reported that the death toll in Gaza for the past 24 hours has reached four. Israeli soldiers killed late Tuesday at night and on Wednesday after midnight two Palestinian residents in Jabalia town, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip after being shot by army tanks that had invaded the area.

Today's military operation comes shortly after Israeli security minister Amir Peretz announced that he gave orders to the army to conduct a wide scale military operation in the Gaza Strip. Israeli military sources reported that soldiers are currently operating along the Philadelphia Route, around the Rafah border crossing, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. This marks the first time that soldiers operate there since Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005.

The sources stated that the operation took place approximately 1.5 kilometers inside the Palestinian area, and that infantry troops invaded the area near the Rafah crossing in search for tunnels used by resistance factions for smuggling arms and ammunition into the Gaza Strip. The sources added that specialists from the Bedouin Scout Battalion are aiding the army in locating the tunnels. The attack was carried out after Shin Bet's Israeli Security Service gathered intelligence reports on “the presence of tunnels in the area."
The West Bank Update

Israeli forces invaded the West Bank city of Nablus and Beit Iba village west of the city and took five residents prisoner Wednesday morning. Soldiers and army jeeps invaded Beit Iba, and surrounded a number of houses and searched and ransacked them before taking Khalid Isma'el, 32, and his brother Mohamed to unknown locations.  Israeli troops also stormed the Kilit Al Eman neighborhood in Nablus city, where they attacked and ransacked residents' homes before taking three residents to unknown locations. The names of those seized have not yet been released.

On Tuesday evening Israeli soldiers assassinated two Palestinians, including one fighter, in Al Ein refugee camp in Nablus city. The two were assassinated by under-cover forces of the Israeli army, local sources reported.

The Israeli army continued its military operation in the village of Qabatia, south of the West Bank city of Jenin, and took at least twelve residents prisoner on Wednesday afternoon. The search campaign started earlier on Wednesday morning when Israeli soldiers ransacked 15 houses belonging to local Qabatia residents. All of the village residents were kept hostage for several hours by the Israeli soldiers, who had occupied the local boys' and girls' schools, and held the residents there while searching their homes.

Israeli soldiers stationed at a military checkpoint, north east of Bethlehem, attacked Sawsan Abu Turki, an 18 year-old Palestinian woman from the West Bank city of Hebron on Wednesday after stopping the bus she had boarded at the checkpoint.

Abu Turki sustained fractures and bruises on her hands after troops attacked her while she was attempting to cross a checkpoint installed at Wadi Al Nar road north east of the West Bank city of Bethlehem. She was participating in a trip organized by a local women group in Hebron that was planning to visit the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem to mark Lailat al Kader (Night of Destiny), the night Muslims believe God revealed the Koran to the prophet Mohammed.

Sawsan said that soldiers stopped the bus and checked the identity cards of the passengers. She was detained and questioned by the soldiers for four hours before they attacked her. She stated that soldiers accused her of planning an attack against Israeli targets, Abu Turki denied the report. Abu Turki was taken prisoner by the Israeli army several times before for different periods of time, local sources reported.

Women took to the streets of Ramallah Wednesday in protest of the continued infighting between political rivals Hamas and Fatah.


Thank you for joining us from Occupied Bethlehem. You have been listening to Palestine Today from the International Middle East Media Centre, brought to you by Caysha Cay, James Brown & Ghassan Bannoura.