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Monday, 18 November, 2002, 10:30 GMT
Israel raids Gaza security compound
An Israeli armoured column, backed by helicopters, has carried out an overnight raid on a Palestinian security forces compound deep inside Gaza City.

The site, in the Tel al Awar district, was hit at least twice by air-launched missiles, before Israeli bulldozers moved in and started destroying the buildings.


Rather than preventing terrorism, the preventive security (force) in the Gaza Strip is involved in terrorism.

Israel's Brigadier General Israel Ziv
A senior Israeli army official, speaking on Israeli radio, said that the security forces were involved in terrorism and that many weapons, including missiles and mortars, had been uncovered during the raid.

It is the fifth consecutive night that Israeli forces have been active inside the Gaza Strip - pressure is mounting on Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to hit back after a fatal ambush in Hebron on Friday.

Walls smashed

Just before midnight (2200 GMT) about 30 Israeli tanks and armoured vehicles moved in and encircled the compound, Palestinian sources said.

A bulldozer knocked down the perimeter wall and the tanks then entered and fired on the buildings, they said.

Jewish settler carries blood-stained stretcher
The attack in Hebron was one of the bloodiest for months

Several buildings, used by the Palestinian preventive security force, were left damaged and burning when the Israeli troops finally withdrew several hours later.

Although some Palestinian resistance was encountered, no serious injuries were reported on either side.

Terrorist accusations

A senior Israeli army official, Brigadier General Israel Ziv, accused the Palestinian security forces of being involved in terrorism.

"Rather than preventing terrorism, the preventive security [force] in the Gaza Strip is involved in terrorism. Interrogation of Palestinians arrested and this overnight raid proved that," he told Israeli public radio.

"Overnight, during our brief operation in Gaza, we found many arms at the base of this organisation, including dozens of mortars, grenade launchers, a Qassam missile, a weapons production facility and an enormous amount of subversive material," General Ziv added.


Correspondents say that Israel regularly carries out raids or missile strikes on Palestinian targets which it suspects of involvement in the Palestinian intifada or uprising.

Therefore it is not clear whether the raid was in direct response to an ambush in the West Bank city of Hebron on Friday which killed 12 Israeli soldiers and setters.

On Sunday, during a visit to Hebron with Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz, Mr Sharon proposed placing more of the city under Israeli control.

Hebron has long been a flashpoint - some 450 Jewish settlers live there, among a population of 130,000 Palestinians.

The BBC's correspondent in Jerusalem, Barbara Plett, says Mr Sharon is caught between calls for a harsh retaliation by hard-line members of his government and to reduce the violence by United States diplomats.

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The BBC's Barbara Plett
"This was a show of force but essentially an attack on empty buildings"

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17 Nov 02 | Middle East
16 Nov 02 | Middle East
16 Nov 02 | Middle East
03 Dec 01 | issues
15 Nov 02 | Middle East
09 Nov 02 | Middle East
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