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Last Updated:  Friday, 4 April, 2003, 17:22 GMT 18:22 UK
Israeli West Bank raids resume
Palestinian children throw stones at a tank in Jenin on Friday
Tanks withdrew from Tulkarm camp... but rolled into Jenin
At least four Palestinians were injured as Israeli troops continued their hunt for suspected Islamic militants in central Gaza, local witnesses have said.

The injuries occurred when the Israeli forces - backed by tanks and helicopters - raided the Nusseirat refugee camp, triggering exchanges of fire with armed Palestinians, reports said.

The Israeli army said one of its soldiers was injured in the fighting.

The raid was apparently aimed at rounding up Abdul Hakim al-Jahjuh, said to be an activist in the militant Hamas group, but he escaped unharmed.

On the West Bank, troops withdrew from a refugee camp in Tulkarm after a controversial two-day sweep.

But with the withdrawal came a fresh incursion into the northern West Bank town of Jenin and its adjacent refugee camp.

Reports of the Nusseirat raid suggest between four and seven Palestinians suffered gunshot wounds in the two-hour operation.

Electricity supplies were reportedly cut and a road in the camp bulldozed by Israeli troops.

Continuing operations

The raid came just a day after an Israeli incursion into Rafah camp, also on the Gaza Strip, in which four young Palestinians were killed.

Meanwhile, a curfew was reinstated in Jenin. Israel radio said soldiers were combing the city.

The Israeli raid in Tulkarm began on Wednesday, when the army rounded up over 1,000 male residents aged between 15-40 and transferred them to a nearby camp for interrogation.

The army then searched the camp, capturing the leader of Islamic Jihad's military wing, Anwar Aliyan.

It also claimed to have arrested Hadi Hamshidi, leader of Tulkarm's Tanzim - a wing of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement.

Condemnation

The Israeli army said 20 of the detained Palestinian men were found to be on Israel's wanted list and were arrested.

Reports suggest most have now returned to the camp.

The Palestinian authorities condemned the Israeli operation as a "crime".

"Transferring thousand and thousands of refugees from the refugee camp of Tulkarm is a war crime and we hold the Israeli Government fully responsible," Palestinian cabinet minister Saeb Erekat was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.

But interviewed on Israel radio, Israeli West Bank district commander, Brigadier General Yitzhaq Gershon justified his approach.

"We were forced to [use this method] because we did not possess accurate intelligence information on the whereabouts of the Islamic Jihad leader [Anwar Aliyan] and since we wished to avoid harming innocent civilians," he said.


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