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Page last updated at 12:00 GMT, Wednesday, 9 July 2008 13:00 UK

Israel raids Nablus 'Hamas' sites

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Israeli troops have carried out new raids in the West Bank city of Nablus, entering the city hall and a number of mosques alleged to have links to Hamas.

Troops seized computers from the city hall and confiscated several buses from an Islamic school, reports said.

The raids were criticised by Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, who said ongoing operations were undermining efforts to boost security.

The Nablus raids follow operations in a number of other West Bank towns.

There have been frequent raids on allegedly Hamas-funded organisations in the Hebron, Qalqilya and Ramallah areas of the West Bank and the Israeli army recently said it would crack down on Nablus.

The militant Hamas movement is in power in Gaza, while its rival Fatah runs the Palestinian Authority in parts of the West Bank. Israel and its allies view Hamas as a terrorist organisation.

Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the 1967 war. It has settled hundreds of thousands of Israelis in the West Bank and keeps a large military presence there.

Concerns

Speaking in Ramallah, Mr Fayyad said the Israeli operations were a blow to efforts to improve security in the West Bank.

"The operations undermine grossly our efforts aimed at rebuilding our capacity and re-establishing law and order," he said at a news conference.

The latest Nablus raids came one day after Israel shut down a shopping centre, accusing the owners of links to Hamas and ordering it closed for two years.

On Monday, Israeli troops forcibly closed the offices of a Palestinian charity in the northern West Bank town.

There has been widespread outrage in Nablus against the latest military activity, with reports suggesting businesses in Nablus were planning a general strike to protest against the operations.

Israeli officials made no immediate comment on the latest operations.


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