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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 October, 2003, 16:45 GMT 17:45 UK
Israelis raid West Bank hospitals
Israeli troops have raided two West Bank hospitals, detaining two suspected Palestinian militants.

Troops swooped on a Nablus hospital early on Saturday, seizing one man who was being treated in intensive care, Palestinian doctors said.

Soldiers arrested another militant who was armed and using the hospital as a base, Israeli officials said.

Israel accuses militants of hiding out in hospitals but Palestinians say the raids violate international laws.

Troops pulled up in jeeps and ran into the two hospitals before dawn, kicking open doors in a room-to-room search, witnesses said.

'Perfect health'

At the Anglican Hospital in Nablus, soldiers entered the intensive care unit, snatched Khaled Hamed, a member of the militant Hamas group, and took him away in an Israeli military ambulance.

"I explained to the soldiers how critical his condition is," Dr Annan Abdel Hak told the Associated Press. "Then they removed the machines from his body."

Hospitals should not be used to harbour terrorists
Israeli army spokeswoman
Mr Hamed, said to have been badly injured when a bomb he was carrying detonated prematurely, would be treated in a hospital in the Tel Aviv area under guard, an Israeli security official said.

The Israelis accuse him of planning suicide bombing attacks.

In a second raid, Israeli soldiers stormed the Rafidiyeh Hospital and arrested a man said to belong to the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

The Israeli military said the man, who was hiding in the hospital's basement, was armed and in perfect health.

Neutral ground

"This is not the first time that Israeli troops kidnap wounded Palestinians from hospital beds and endanger their lives," said chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.

"It's a grave development that contravenes international law."

There have been several similar raids in recent months weeks, increasing fears among medical staff and human rights groups that hospitals are no longer neutral ground.

But the Israelis say Palestinians are violating international law by allowing militants to use hospitals as sanctuaries.

"Hospitals should not be used to harbour terrorists," Israeli army spokeswoman Major Sharon Feingold said.

In another incident in Nablus, the International Solidarity Movement says two of their foreign volunteers were slightly injured by shrapnel during overnight clashes in the city's Balata refugee camp between Palestinian gunmen and Israeli troops.

Two young Palestinian boys were also lightly wounded, the group said.

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