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Israelis quit Gaza after deadly clash

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by MziziMkavu, Mar 27, 2010.

  1. MziziMkavu

    MziziMkavu JF-Expert Member

    Mar 27, 2010
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    [​IMG] AP – Israeli soldiers are seen at the Gaza Strip on the border with Israel, Friday, March 26, 2010. The Israeli …

    By AMY TEIBEL, Associated Press Writer Amy Teibel, Associated Press Writer – 1 hr 34 mins ago
    JERUSALEM – Two Israeli soldiers and a Palestinian civilian were killed Friday as a gunbattle between troops and Palestinian militants widened into some of the fiercest fighting in the Gaza Strip since Israel's military offensive there last year.
    Gaza's Islamic Hamas rulers confirmed their gunmen were involved in Friday's violence — marking a shift from the group's tendency over the past year to avoid confrontation with Israeli forces. Palestinian groups did not confirm the Israeli military's claim that two militants were killed in the clashes.
    The fighting followed a string of recent Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israel that have ratcheted up tensions along the Israel-Gaza border. It also highlighted some of the challenges the U.S. faces as it struggles to get Israeli-Palestinian peace talks back on track.
    Israel's prime minister dug in his heels on one of the issues in contention Friday, insisting in defiance of U.S. pressure that the Jewish state would continue building in contested east Jerusalem. Benjamin Netanyahu's uncompromising adherence to long-standing Israeli policy signaled that a grave rift with the U.S. remained wide after his White House visit this week — with stalled Mideast peace talks caught in the middle.
    "The prime minister's position is that there is no change in Israeli policy on Jerusalem," Netanyahu's office said in a statement.
    Israel's military said its troops crossed into Gaza after they spotted militants planting explosives along the security fence on the border. A gunbattle broke out, leaving two soldiers and two militants dead, the military said.
    The soldiers were the first to die in clashes with Gaza militants since Jan. 27, 2009, nine days after Israel's military offensive in the territory ended, the military said.
    Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Israel would respond if militants escalated their attacks. "We aren't interested in returning the area to days gone by, but if we have to, we will take action," Barak told Channel 2 TV.
    Hamas official Ismail Radwan told Associated Press Television News that the deaths of the soldiers were a "gift" from Hamas to Jerusalem and to Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, who is widely believed to have been slain by Israeli agents in a Dubai hotel in January.
    Soldiers also fought another group of militants planting explosives, wounding two of them, the military said.
    Further south in Gaza, Israeli forces backed by tanks and helicopter gunships fired into a sparsely populated border area near the city of Khan Younis, Hamas security officials said. Militants responded with mortar fire.
    Military spokeswoman Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich described the military action in the area as a routine defensive operation meant to protect southern Israel from militants who attack it with rockets and explosives.
    Gaza medical officials reported that one civilian was killed and seven were wounded in the fighting. Militants reported one wounded and one missing.
    Hamas, which does not recognize Israel's right to exist, is shunned by Israel and the U.S. as a terrorist group and is not part of Washington's troubled peace efforts.
    Friction over Israeli construction in east Jerusalem has been the focus of the most recent dispute, derailing U.S.-mediated negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians even before they began.
    The Palestinians want the eastern sector of the holy city as the capital of a future state that would include the West Bank and Gaza, and view the expanding Jewish presence in east Jerusalem as a challenge to their claim. Netanyahu claims the entire city for Israel's eternal capital.
    The Israeli leader's meetings in Washington this week with President Barack Obama and other top U.S. officials did not appear to quell U.S. anger over a major east Jerusalem construction project whose announcement in the middle of a visit by Vice President Joe Biden sparked the worst diplomatic row between the two countries in decades.
    Israel's stance earned Netanyahu a chilly reception at the White House, without the usual trappings accorded an important ally. Netanyahu received a warm public reception from Congress, however, indicating the administration might be limited in how much pressure it can apply. American Jewish backers of Israel are traditionally reliable supporters of the Democratic Party.
    Netanyahu sat down with key Israeli Cabinet ministers for five hours Friday to frame a response to Washington's demands for Israeli peace gestures. His office issued a statement afterward offering no details of the discussion, but saying ministers would meet again soon.
    In the Syrian capital of Damascus, tens of thousands of Syrians and Palestinians gathered Friday for a government-orchestrated "march of anger" against Israeli construction in Jerusalem's eastern sector.
    Israel annexed east Jerusalem immediately after capturing it from Jordan during the 1967 Mideast war and does not consider Jewish construction there to be settlement activity. Over the years, it has built a ring of Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem to cement its control there. Some 180,000 Israelis live there.
    The international community does not recognize the annexation and equates the Jewish construction there with West Bank settlements.
    Associated Press writer Rizek Abdel Jawad in Gaza City, Gaza Strip contributed to this report.
  2. MziziMkavu

    MziziMkavu JF-Expert Member

    Mar 28, 2010
    Joined: Feb 3, 2009
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    2 IDF soldiers, at least 1 Palestinian die in fighting

    [​IMG]An Israeli Apache helicopter fires flares over the northern Gaza Strip on Friday.
    [​IMG] View related photos
    AGAZA - Israeli troops and tanks left the Gaza Strip on Saturday, witnesses said, ending an incursion into the Hamas-ruled enclave made after the bloodiest clash in 14 months killed two soldiers and at least one Palestinian.The violence underscored deadlock in U.S.-mediated talks between Israel and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose peace strategy has been sapped by Hamas hostility along with continued Israeli settlement construction on occupied land.
    Resisting U.S. pressure in what analysts called a bruising encounter with President Barack Obama in Washington this week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would not stop building in West Bank areas it annexed to East Jerusalem.
    Story continues below ↓advertisement | your ad here

    Obama wants Israel to halt settlement in East Jerusalem, an issue that created new friction when a plan to build 1,600 more houses was published as Vice President Joe Biden visited to urge "proximity talks" with U.S. mediation.
    The Arab League, which had given its blessing to indirect Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, signaled a major review in strategy.
    "We have to study the possibility that the peace process will be a complete failure," League Secretary-General Amr Moussa told Arab leaders gathered in the Libyan town of Sirte.
    West Bank settlements an obstacle to peace?
    March 27: NBC’s Tom Aspell tours the Israeli-occupied West Bank, home to nearly 200 Jewish settlements that have been deemed illegal under international law.
    Nightly News

    "It's time to face Israel. We have to have alternative plans because the situation has reached a turning point," he said.
    The impasse had triggered sporadic rocket attacks this month from Gaza which drew Israeli airstrikes. On Friday, Palestinians ambushed soldiers who, the army said, had crossed the border to dismantle a mine. Two infantrymen were killed and two wounded.
    Israelis said they killed two Palestinian gunmen but Gaza hospital officials confirmed only one Palestinian death. The clashes were the fiercest since the three-week Gaza war of early 2009. Some 1,400 Palestinians, mainly civilians, and 13 Israelis, mainly troops, died in that conflict.
    Ramifications for Hamas
    Islamist Hamas spurns the Jewish state but has largely held fire since the war. It said its men took part in Friday's fighting, but only in order to repel the Israeli incursion.
    "We have been used to seeing breakaway (Palestinian) groups doing the firing, and Hamas trying to calm things down. Possibly it is loosening its grip, for all sorts of reasons," Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Israeli television on Friday.
    "Should that indeed prove to be the case, then there will also be ramifications for Hamas," he said, but added: "We have no interest in returning the region to what was in the past."
    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who during a visit to the region this month urged Israel to lift a Gaza embargo tightened after Hamas took over in 2007, also voiced concern.
    "I reiterate my appeals ... for maximum restraint and an end to all violence, in particular at this critical time when we are engaged in efforts to revive peace talks," he said in Sirte, on the sidelines of the Arab League summit. Gazan doctors said a 23-year-old Palestinian was killed in the clash near the town of Khan Younis, and five others wounded.
    The dead man, identified as a civilian, was given a hero's funeral on Saturday, with scores of masked gunmen marching among the hundreds of mourners. "Martyr, rest in peace, and we will continue the struggle," they chanted.
    Israel captured Gaza, along with the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in a 1967 war. It withdrew unilaterally from Gaza in 2005 but has expanded Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Palestinians want a state in all the territories.