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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 October, 2004, 07:53 GMT 08:53 UK
Israelis in fresh Gaza incursion
Israeli troops have entered the Rafah refugee camp in southern Gaza in a new incursion to locate Palestinian weapons smuggling tunnels, the army says.

About 10 tanks and three bulldozers went into the camp, on the border with Egypt, where they came under automatic gunfire. There were no casualties.

The incursion comes a day after troops left the northern Jabaliya camp.

The 16-day operation to track down rocket teams targeting Israel saw the heaviest fighting there in four years.

More than 130 Palestinians were killed - a third of them civilians, and at least 10 children under the age of 14.

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei said about 500 people were injured.

Two Israeli soldiers and a woman jogger were killed during the Jabaliya incursion.

A Palestinian woman trying to salvage belongings from her house in Jabaliya.
The Jabaliya operation caused extensive damage
The Palestinian Authority said 95 homes were demolished during the northern Gaza offensive.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza said dozens more homes, shops and public buildings were damaged.

Palestinian militant group Hamas issued a statement on Saturday hailing the Israeli withdrawal as "a serious defeat for the enemy" because "it did not manage to achieve its goal - stopping Qassam launches inside the Green Line".

Settler talks

Gaza has been occupied by Israel since 1967.

About 1.4 million Palestinians live in Gaza, of which 900,000 are refugees from conflicts with Israel.

Mr Sharon is planning to withdraw both settlers and Israeli soldiers from Gaza.

Approximately 8,000 settlers from Gaza, and the troops who protect them, are expected to leave Gaza by the end of 2005, though Israel will maintain control of Gaza's borders, coastline and airspace.

The disengagement plan has been welcomed in Washington but earlier this year members of Mr Sharon's Likud faction voted against the proposals in a referendum.

On Sunday, Mr Sharon was due to meet settler leaders opposed to his plan.




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