Palestinian killed in West Bank raid by Israel

February 27, 2007|By Ken Ellingwood | Ken Ellingwood,LOS ANGELES TIMES

JERUSALEM -- A Palestinian man was killed and another wounded yesterday as a major Israeli military raid in Nablus kept the heart of the West Bank city under curfew for the second consecutive day.

The Israeli army said the incursion, the largest in Nablus in months, was aimed at armed militants and what it calls the "terrorist infrastructure" rooted in a city that has long been a hotbed for Palestinian fighters.

Troops backed by armored vehicles and bulldozers operated in the Old City section, a cramped labyrinth of shops and apartments. Thousands of residents were ordered to stay inside. The operation, which began in earnest early Sunday, is expected to last several days.

Officials said the bulk of the planned suicide attacks against Israelis that were thwarted during the past year, and most of the explosive belts seized in the West Bank during the past six months, originated in Nablus.

Brig. Gen. Yair Golan, West Bank division commander, said recent intelligence reports suggested that Palestinian militants were growing stronger and that the army needed to counter that.

Golan said Israeli forces found storerooms containing explosives, electrical devices used in bombs, belts used by suicide bombers and communications equipment.

Palestinians said Anan Tibi, 42, was killed by Israeli fire as he stood outside his house. His 20-year-old son, Ashraf, was wounded when he tried to help, medical officials said.

Israeli military officials said soldiers fired after they spotted three suspected militants moving across a rooftop. Two were hit by Israeli fire, an army spokesman said. He said troops later found a homemade gun at the scene.

Ken Ellingwood writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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