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Israeli tanks, gunships hit Hebron

Palestinian girl
A Palestinian mother directs her daughter to shelter during firing in Hebron Thursday.  

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli tanks and helicopter gunships entered Palestinian-controlled areas of Hebron and shelled buildings, injuring as many as five Palestinians, Palestinian sources said.

The Israeli Army said it entered the area late Thursday to destroy two specific buildings from where they said Palestinians launched assaults on Israelis.

Palestinian police said the Israeli military went about 800 meters into the Abu Sneineh sector of the city and the nearby Wadi al-Hariyeh sector.

Twelve Israeli tanks, six bulldozers and helicopter gunships participated in the attacks, the Palestinian police said. The tanks shelled buildings, while helicopter gunships fired from overhead.

There were conflicting reports on casualties from Palestinian sources.

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Palestinian police said three Palestinians were wounded; one seriously. The Palestine Red Crescent Society said Friday morning that five Palestinians were seriously hurt in the incursion by Israeli forces.

Although not directly linking it to Israel's foray into Palestinian territory, the Red Crescent said two elderly women died in Hebron from what appeared to be heart-related problems.

The Israeli Army said the attacks were in response to a Palestinian attack earlier in the day that seriously wounded an 11-year-old boy. Israeli military sources said they shelled the buildings from tanks.

The Israeli military said they had since left the region and that they were fired on by Palestinians. The Palestinian police said Israel was in the process of withdrawing.

The attacks came at the end of another chaotic day in the region.

Two Israeli children -- an 11-year-old boy and his older brother -- were injured by gunfire from Palestinians in Hebron, according to Israeli security officials. The 11-year-old suffered serious wounds.

That incident led to the late night Israeli military response.

The Israel Defense Forces said its soldiers fired at the legs of rioters who were trying to break down the fence surrounding the nearby settlement of Gush Katif.

Elsewhere, the Israeli military fired on the car of a Palestinian police official Thursday morning, injuring him and others in the West Bank town of Nablus, according to Palestinian sources, who called the attack an attempted assassination.

The IDF defended the action, saying Jihad al-Miemi was a member of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement and had been involved in attacks on Israelis.

"In the Nablus area, a high-ranking Fatah militant was fired at with missiles hitting the car. This activist is responsible for a long list of attacks against civilians and soldiers," the IDF said in a written statement.

A Palestinian police officer carries a license plate from a car hit by Israeli missiles in Nablus Thursday.  

Nablus government officials said al-Miemi, described as a colonel in the Palestinian police, was traveling with two bodyguards when the IDF fired two surface-to-surface missiles from Mount Ebal.

One missile hit the car, the other missed, government sources said. The Palestine Red Crescent Society said four people, including al-Miemi, were injured in the attack. Israel Radio said al-Miemi was "lightly hurt."

In a separate incident, Palestinian sources said IDF tanks were intercepted as they moved toward the Palestinian town of Der al Balah in central Gaza. A firefight took place when Palestinians tried to stop the tanks.

Israeli military sources said tanks moved into Gaza after three shells were fired toward an Israeli village in Gaza. In response, sources said, the IDF fired three tank rounds toward where the shells came from, the area of a Palestinian national security headquarters, to protect civilians.

Military sources said Palestinians then opened fire on the IDF. The IDF has since left the area. Israel Radio reported seven Palestinian policemen were injured, two of them seriously.

The Jerusalem daily newspaper Ha'aretz reported Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eleizer was holding a briefing to determine why an attack on a man Israel calls a Hamas bombmaking expert failed in Gaza Wednesday.

In the incident, Israeli helicopter gunships fired at two cars. Palestinian officials said Adnan al-Ghoul was the target. He escaped but the strike killed his son, Bilal, 20, and seriously injured another wanted Palestinian, Sa'id al-Arbid.

• Israel Defense Forces
• Palestine Red Crescent Society
• Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
• Palestinian Authority

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