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Saturday, 7 September, 2002, 05:43 GMT 06:43 UK
Israel raids Gaza Strip
Palestinians inspect the rubble of Mohammed Frainah's metal workshop after it was hit by Israeli helicopters in Khan Younis refugee camp
Gaza Strip has recently been engulfed in violence
The Israeli army has carried out a large-scale incursion into the Gaza Strip, sending tanks and armoured vehicles into the central town of Deir al-Balah.

Islamic Jihad member
Islamic Jihad has carried out a series of attacks on Israeli targets
The Israeli army briefly took over the police station and enforced curfew at a refugee camp that borders the town, before withdrawing after three hours.

A local leader of the militant Islamic Jihad group, Maher Bashir, was arrested during the raid, according to Palestinian sources.

An Israeli army spokesman said explosives were discovered and workshops for making weapons were destroyed.

Israeli security sources said the army was carrying out a targeted operation against terrorist infrastructure and it had no intentions of taking over Gaza.

The town's mosque called people to resist the Israeli troops, but there were no reports of fighting.

The BBC's James Rodgers in Gaza says the operation may be linked to two recent incidents in the Gaza Strip in which two Israeli soldiers were killed and an Israeli tank destroyed.

Violence in Gaza

In Thursday's two separate attacks, a bomb exploded under an Israeli tank near the Maghazi refugee a refugee camp, killing at least one Israeli soldier and wounding at least three others.

The Popular Resistance Committee, an umbrella group representing several Palestinian factions said it was behind the attack.

In the other attack, an Israeli officer was killed and another soldier injured when a Palestinian gunman opened fire on them near the Jewish settlement of Nitzanit in the northern Gaza Strip.

Israeli soldiers then rushed to the scene and shot the gunman dead, an army spokesman said.

Malek Grifat, 24, was named as the dead soldier.

The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed group linked to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction, claimed responsibility for the shooting.

Israeli clampdown

Later on Thursday four Israeli attack helicopters, accompanied by an F-16 warplane, fired several missiles at a metal workshop near the Palestinian police headquarters in the central Gaza city of Khan Younis.

The army said the factory was being used to make weapons, but this was denied by its owner.

On Friday, the Israeli army closed two major junctions in the Strip, effectively cutting the territory into three.

The roads were blocked in what the Israeli army said was an operation to prevent the passage of weapons of terror.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's James Rodgers
"The Israeli army say that they discovered a large explosive device"

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