IDF kills seven Palestinians in territories

A 26-year-old Palestinian farmer was shot dead and another farmer was wounded by Israel Defense Forces fire near the Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, sources in the Palestinian police said Thursday night. A total of seven Palestinians were killed by IDF troops in the territories on Thursday.

According to the IDF, the two farmers were shot after digging in the ground in an area barred to Palestinian travel, where explosive devices had been placed in the past. The IDF went on to say that the troops demanded that the two halt, and that warning shots were fired. When the farmers did not comply with the soldiers’ demands, they were shot.

Four Palestinians were killed and eight others were wounded early Thursday during an IDF incursion in the Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, Gaza doctors said. The troops left Rafah shortly after dawn.

In the West Bank city of Qalqilyah, witnesses said overnight Wednesday that a 14-year-old boy was shot dead by IDF troops firing from jeeps as he stood outside his home.

Also in the West Bank, IDF troops in Nablus killed a Hamas activist during an attempt to arrest him. Two soldiers were wounded in the incident. Another IDF soldier was wounded in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

“I condemn these killings, including the (teenager) in Qalqiliya, and urge the international community not to allow Israel to continue exploiting the war with Iraq to achieve its end goal,” said Saeb Erekat, Palestinian Cabinet minister.

Three mortar shells were fired at a Gush Katif settlement in the Gaza Strip. No injuries were reported.

Of the Palestinians killed in Gaza, three unarmed civilians were killed by a missile fired from one of the helicopters accompanying some 25 IDF tanks and bulldozers, while a 24-year-old was killed an exchange of fire with troops.

Four IDF soldiers were lightly wounded when a tank overturned after an explosive device detonated beneath it.

The army also demolished four abandoned homes in Rafah to prevent them from being used to conceal tunnels used for smuggling arms to the Gaza Strip from Egypt.

Thousands of Palestinians march in Jenin in support of Saddam

Thousands of Palestinians in Jenin were marching in streets Thursday to show their support for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Israel Radio reported.

The demonstration also marks one year since the Israel Defense Forces “Operation Defensive Shield” in the West Bank city.

IDF rounds up 1,000 in Tul Karm

The army said that some 1,000 Palestinians, from the ages of 14 to 45, rounded up in the Tul Karm refugee camp, would likely be allowed to return to their homes on Thursday.

The operation was part of a fresh crackdown on suspected militants in the camp.

During continuing operations in Tul Karm, IDF troops demolished the home of the suicide bomber who carried out an attack last year in the Netanya mall about two years ago in which five Israelis were killed.

On Wednesday night, sodliers arrested an unarmed Palestinian man trying to escape the Tul Karm area by dressing as a woman.

Elsewhere in the West Bank, the IDF arrested the head of Hamas in Hebron, Munir Marei, and his aide late Wednesday.

Soldiers in tanks and armored vehicles backed by helicopters imposed a curfew in Tul Karm and searched homes for militants before telling males aged 14-40 to gather in the courtyard of a local school or face punishment, residents told Reuters.

Soldiers ordered the Palestinians to get on buses that took them a few kilometers east of Tul Karm and told them not to return home for three days, until the military had finished its searches.

Eleven were identified as wanted militants and formally arrested, the army said. Identity checks continued on the others and those not on the wanted list would be quickly freed, it added. Troops were also searching houses for weapons.

It was the largest round-up of Palestinians in Tul Karm for a year and came after an Islamic militant from a nearby village blew himself up outside a cafe in the Israeli seaside town of Netanya on Sunday, wounding dozens of people.