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Israeli helicopters attack Gaza, West Bank

GAZA (CNN) -- Israeli attack helicopters struck targets in Beit Hanun in northern Gaza early Tuesday, Palestinian sources said.

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The Organization of the Islamic Conference held an emergency summit in Qatar to discuss the latest round of Mideast violence. CNN's James Martone reports (December 11)

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A suicide bombing in the Israeli city of Haifa injures 29 people, and four Palestinian police officers are killed by Israeli soldiers. CNN's Mike Hanna reports (December 10)

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Witnesses identified the targets as a building housing Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's personal guard, Force 17, and another building belonging to the Palestinian intelligence service. There were no reports of injuries.

The strike by Israel Defense Forces followed Monday's mortar shell attack that lightly injured a 4-year-old Israeli girl in the Jewish settlement of Gush Katif in Gaza. Four mortar shells were fired from Palestinian territory.

In a separate incident overnight, Israeli troops shot and killed two Palestinians at a military checkpoint. Military sources said the Palestinians tried to run a roadblock in a car and failed to stop after a number of warning shots.

But the report was disputed by a Palestinian witness who said the two men had left their car and were running toward an olive grove. The witness said no shots were heard until after the men entered the grove.

On Monday, Israeli helicopters fired two missiles at a car in Hebron in the West Bank, killing two Palestinian children and wounding seven other people.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said the two children killed were a 16-year-old boy and another child between 5 and 7. Three of the wounded were children, the group said.

Among those hurt was Mohammed Ayub Sider, a leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Red Crescent said. His wounds were described as moderate.

The Israel Defense Forces said the intended target was Sider and Israel Radio described the strike as an assassination attempt.

The Palestinian security sources said there were five people in the car. A number of those wounded were said to be bystanders.

An IDF spokesman said the IDF "makes every effort to prevent the loss of life of innocent civilians and deeply regrets the loss of life."

The IDF spokesman said Sider was in charge of several cells preparing suicide bombs in Israel.

The IDF accused Sider of being behind two shooting incidents and claimed he was planning a terror attack at Be'er Sheva and a kidnapping of an Israeli soldier at Hebron.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad is a militant group dedicated to the creation of an Islamic Palestinian state and the destruction of Israel. Callers claiming to represent the Islamic Jihad have claimed responsibility for some of the wave of suicide bombings that began nine days ago.

U.S. envoy continues meetings

Reports of the attack came just after retired Gen. Anthony Zinni, U.S. envoy to the Middle East, met with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Two meetings between Israelis and Palestinians with Zinni have ended inconclusively. Sharon said he asked Zinni not to leave the region but to keep working on obtaining a real cease-fire.

The earlier helicopter attack was the first of a string of violent incidents Monday. In Ramallah, one Palestinian was killed and another was injured when an explosion went off in a truck carrying gas canisters.

Both the IDF and Palestinian officials said the explosion was sparked when gasoline from a leaking canister ignited accidentally.

The explosion occurred near a district coordinating office used by Israeli and Palestinian officials, Israeli security officials said. The location was described as several hundred meters from the checkpoint where Zinni's convoy was believed to have been.

The convoy taking Zinni to a meeting with Arafat was held for a short time. Zinni was not injured, a radio report said.

Elsewhere, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces said four mortar shells landed in Gush Katif in Gaza, slightly injuring on a 4-year-old Israeli girl.

On Sunday, Israel rejected an offer by four militant Palestinian groups to halt their attacks through the end of Ramadan if Israel agreed to stop killing their members. The Islamic holy month ends later this week.

"Israel deals only with the Palestinian Authority," said Ra'anan Gissin, a spokesman for Sharon. "The Israelis don't deal with these terrorist organizations. They have nothing to do except call for the destruction of Israel."

The offer, faxed late Sunday to news organizations, was signed by members of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the military wing of Arafat's Fatah faction. The fourth group is an obscure one.

The offer came the same day a suicide bombing at a Haifa bus stop wounded 29 people. It was the sixth terrorist bombing in Israel in nine days and came one week after the suicide bombing of a bus in the coastal city killed 15 Israelis and injured 35.



 
 
 
 


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RELATED SITES:
• Israeli Government
• Palestinian Authority
• Palestine Red Crescent Society
• Israel Defense Forces
• U.S. Department of State

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