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Tuesday, 24 September, 2002, 06:24 GMT 07:24 UK
Nine dead in Gaza clashes
Injured man in Gaza hospital
Over 20 are reported injured in the night's raid
Nine Palestinians were killed early on Tuesday in Gaza City, when Israeli troops moved into the area, according to Palestinian sources.

The Israelis say that among the Palestinians killed was a member of Hamas, who had been involved in attacks on Israelis.

Another is reported to have been a major in the Palestinian security forces.

The Israelis say their latest incursion was in response to recent attacks on Jewish settlements.

Meanwhile, a stand-off continues at Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's compound in Ramallah, after the Israeli army destroyed more buildings at the weekend.

Monday night saw an impromptu and noisy demonstration in the town's main Manara Square against the curfew imposed by Israeli authorities and the continuing siege of Mr Arafat's compound.

Militants dead

The deaths came as Israeli bulldozers backed by tanks advanced into a number of areas of Gaza.

During the operation, the Israelis say they destroyed workshops used for making weapons.

The managing director of the Gaza general hospital, Doctor Nafez Shallah, told the BBC that 20 others were injured in the Israeli action, three of them seriously.

Ramallah compound
Israel says the siege will go on until those inside surrender
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said earlier that Israeli forces would, at some point, mount an assault in Gaza aimed at the activities of the militant groups Islamic Jihad and Hamas.

Three men were killed when tanks and helicopters directed machine-gun fire at the Shejaya district of Gaza City.

Two of the dead were named as Yassin Nasser, 53, an activist in the radical Hamas movement and 20-year-old Jaber al-Kharazi, a militant of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

The other six fatalities were caused by tank fire in local streets.

Annan appeal

In New York on Monday, the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, urged Israel and the Palestinians to seek a peaceful solution to the Ramallah deadlock.

"A policy based on forcing the other side to capitulate is a bankrupt policy. It is not working and it will never work. It only encourages desperation. It weakens moderates and strengthens extremists," Mr Annan said.

Mr Arafat has rejected an Israeli demand to provide a list of all those who are sheltering with him in his besieged headquarters.


Map showing location of compound in Ramallah
Arafat's Ramallah compound
  • Known as the Muqata'a
  • Built by the British in the 1920s
  • Palestinians took control in 1994, a year after Oslo peace accords
  • Largely destroyed by Israeli forces

  • Mr Arafat conveyed the message through chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat - who visited him on Monday in the only building still standing after Israel demolished the rest of the Ramallah compound.

    Mr Erekat said the Palestinian leader wanted political and security talks with Israel, also involving US representatives - a demand unlikely to be met by the Israelis, a BBC correspondent says.

    More than 200 of Mr Arafat's aides and security officials are trapped in a wing of his office.

    Israel says that wanted militants are among them, and that they should all give themselves up for questioning.

    The BBC's Barbara Plett, in Ramallah, says the dilemma for the Palestinian leaders is that Israel is determined to get its hands on the Palestinian West Bank intelligence chief, Tawfik Tirawi - one of the wanted men in the compound.

    He is a senior security official and Arafat loyalist, and Palestinians say it would be political suicide for Mr Arafat to hand him over.

     WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    The BBC's Matt Prodger
    "A rare popular protest in the street against Israeli curfews"
    The BBC's James Rodgers
    "Among the dead is a member of the militant group Hamas"

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    23 Sep 02 | Middle East
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