Israeli-Palestinian clashes flare up a day before Arab League Summit in Libya

11:01, March 27, 2010      

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Violence between Israel and the Palestinians flared up Friday in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a day before Arab state leaders hold their annual Arab League summit in the Libyan city of Sirte.


Abu Obeida (C), a spokesman for Hamas's armed wing the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigade, holds a press conference in Gaza City March 26, 2010. Two Israeli soldiers and two Palestinians have been killed on Friday in an exchange of fire between Israli forces and Hamas militants who were planting explosives along the security fence in the southern Gaza Strip. (Xinhua/Yasser Qudih)

Palestinian and Israeli sources said that two Palestinian militants and two Israeli soldiers were killed during a fierce gun battle between Islamic Hamas movement militants and Israeli soldiers near the borderline between southeast Gaza Strip and Israel.

In a statement sent to reporters, al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas movement's armed wing, claimed responsibility for detonating a roadside bomb near the borderline between Israel and the eastern area of the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis.

The pro-Hamas al-Aqsa Radio reported that a group of militants detonated a roadside bomb as an Israeli army force was patrolling the borderline area, adding that three Israeli soldiers were hit. Later on, Hamas armed wing confirmed in a statement that two of the three wounded soldiers, died soon.


Medics treat a Palestinian boy at the Nasser hospital after he was wounded by Israeli shrapnel from tank fire in the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Yunis on March 26, 2010. Two Israeli soldiers and two Palestinians were killed in an exchange of fire near the border with the Gaza Strip, an Israeli army spokesman said. (Xinhua/Khaled Omar)

Residents said that a gun-battle erupted near the borderline area after an Israeli army force rolled into the Palestinian area of the border and opened intensive gunfire, adding that they heard heavy gunfire and explosions. They also said that they saw an Israeli helicopter landing on the area to evacuate the three soldiers.

They added that during the heavy armed clashes, an Israeli army tank fired a tank shell at the militants, killing two of them and wounding three others. The five Palestinians were evacuated from the area by local ambulances and were taken to Nasser Hospital in the city.

The Gaza Strip had recently witnessed a flaming violence, where radical Islamic Sunni Salafist groups and minor left-wing militant groups fired several homemade rockets from the Gaza Strip at Israel. The Israeli army carried out a series of intensive airstrikes on several Gaza Strip targets for revenge.


Israeli soldiers gather at the border area between Gaza Strip and south Israel, March 26, 2010. (Xinhua/Rafael Ben-Ari)

Friday's gun battle southeast of the Gaza Strip is the most violent since the end of last winter's Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip, where around 1,440 Palestinians were killed and thousands of houses and buildings were destroyed.

Earlier on Friday, an Israeli army spokesman announced that a homemade rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip at southern Israel, adding that no damages or injuries were reported. No Palestinian group have claimed responsibility for the rocket attack.

The Israeli-Palestinian violence flared up on Friday in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a day before Arab States leaders will convene in the Libyan city of Sirte for the annual Arab League Summit.

Medical sources and witnesses said that a 15-year-old Palestinian boy was shot and wounded on Friday morning after Israeli troops stationed at northern Gaza Strip border opened fire at him.


Abu Obeida, a spokesman for Hamas's armed wing the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigade, holds a press conference in Gaza City March 26, 2010. Two Israeli soldiers and two Palestinians have been killed on Friday in an exchange of fire between Israli forces and Hamas militants who were planting explosives along the security fence in the southern Gaza Strip. (Xinhua/Yasser Qudih)

Witnesses said that Israeli soldiers stationed at one of the Israeli lookout posts on the border opened fire at Said Hamdan, 15, of northern Gaza and moderately wounded him as he approached the borderline area.

They added that local unemployed Palestinians approach the borderline area, near former Jewish settlements, to collect pebbles and gravels, used for construction, to make a living.

In the West Bank, Palestinian security sources said that the Israeli army forces detained six Palestinians during overnight raids in the northern West Bank city of Jenin and in the villages of Ya'bad and Burqien.

Meanwhile, witnesses said that Jewish settlers threw stones at Palestinian vehicles near the settlement of Shilo close to the city of Ramallah, adding that two Palestinian cars were badly damaged, and no injuries were reported.

Palestinian security sources also said that the Israeli military forces dispersed with tear gas and rubber bullets a weekly protest against the Israeli separation barrier that Israel has been building in the West Bank, adding that dozens of the protestors suffered from suffocation.

Medics said that a Palestinian demonstrator was injured by a metal-coated rubber bullet. Independent lawmaker and political activist Mustafa al-Barghouti also joined the protest.


An Israeli helicopter fires flares over the northern Gaza Strip, March 26, 2010. (Xinhua/Rafael Ben-Ari)

The escalating tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have increased as the United States is exerting efforts to bring the Israeli and the Palestinian leaders to the negotiation table. However, the ongoing Israeli construction plans in East Jerusalem have blocked any progress to resume the talks between the two sides.

Arab states leaders will convene in Libya for a two-day summit this weekend, while the Palestinians expect that the Arab summit will make crucial decisions to oblige Israel to stop its policy of settlement expansion, especially in East Jerusalem, the part of the holy city the Palestinians want as the capital of their future statehood.

Source: Xinhua
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