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Fighting and military activity in West Bank and Gaza

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- A summary of fighting and military activity in the West Bank and Gaza late Friday and Saturday:

  • In Nablus, the West Bank's largest city, five Palestinians were killed and 50 injured -- 15 seriously -- in overnight fighting with Israeli forces, according to Palestinian medical sources.
  • Israeli troops backed by helicopter gunships waged fierce battles in Nablus Saturday with Palestinian gunmen and conducted house-to-house searches, according to Palestinian residents and local officials. Israeli troops searched the home of the city's mayor, who was out of town, and they arrested his two sons, they said. The Israeli army reported fighting in the city but gave no immediate details.

    Near Nablus, the Israel Defense Forces said it killed four terrorists Friday night caught laying explosives near an IDF checkpoint at the Askar refugee camp. Palestinian medical sources confirmed the four deaths.

  • In Jenin, five Palestinians were killed in overnight fighting, Palestinian security sources said. Three Israeli troops were killed and one seriously wounded in gun battles Friday, the Israeli army said.
  • Israeli troops were bulldozing through houses in the Jenin refugee camp, after Palestinians put cement barricades in the camp's entryways in anticipation of the Israeli incursion, Palestinian sources said. An Israeli army officer said they had control of the city of Jenin after "difficult fighting" as part of Israel's anti-terrorism operation. The army's last stage was controlling the Jenin refugee camp.

    In a separate incident near Jenin, Israeli troops shot a Palestinian with an explosive belt late Friday. Israeli sources said the device he was carrying exploded and the man was killed. No IDF soldiers were injured in the explosion. At least 50 houses have been damaged in the incursion into Jenin, according to Palestinian sources.

  • In Ramallah, Palestinian sources said around 5 a.m. Saturday the perimeter wall of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's compound sustained heavy shelling. More than a dozen explosions were heard, the sources said.
  • Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told CNN he lost contact with Arafat -- who remains holed up inside the compound -- around 3 a.m. Saturday, but communication was restored by the afternoon. He said the situation inside the compound, where Arafat and 40 others remain holed up, was OK, although there was no electricity or running water and food supplies were low.

    Erakat said the last message from Arafat indicated "sounds of explosions in the building," however the Israel Defense Forces said there was no shooting toward Arafat's offices.

  • Also in the West Bank, the IDF said a helicopter strike killed the man responsible for masterminding the Passover attack in Netanya that killed 26 as well as other attacks. The suicide bombing was the most deadly of a string of attacks that triggered the current Israeli military operation.
  • The helicopter strike took place in the town of Tubas, between Nablus and Jenin. Six members of Izzedine al Qassam -- the military wing of Hamas -- were killed. The U.S. State Department has labeled Hamas a terrorist organization.

  • Near Hebron in the West Bank, Israeli forces moved into the town of Yatta overnight. Two Palestinians were shot and killed, the Palestine Red Crescent said.
  • In southern Gaza, Israeli troops shot and killed two Palestinian gunmen trying to enter the Jewish settlement of Rafah Yam, the Israeli army said. The army said one Israeli soldier was killed and five were wounded in the fighting.
  • In Bethlehem, the standoff continued at the Church of the Nativity, where some 200 people, including Palestinian gunmen, have taken refuge. Israeli troops have surrounded the church, which is built on the site where Christians believe Jesus was born, demanding the gunmen surrender.


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