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Reports: 9 Palestinians die in Gaza clashes

In this handout photo from the Palestinian Authority, Arafat is seen Monday at his desk in Ramallah.
In this handout photo from the Palestinian Authority, Arafat is seen Monday at his desk in Ramallah.

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GAZA CITY (CNN) -- Israeli tanks and troops backed by helicopter gunships entered two Gaza City neighborhoods early Tuesday, engaging Palestinian gunmen in fierce firefights, Palestinian and Israeli sources said.

According to Palestinian hospital sources, nine Palestinians died in the battles and 20 were wounded.

Israeli forces withdrew several hours later with no reported casualties.

During the operation, Israeli soldiers blew up 13 workshops used for making ammunition and Qassam rockets, an Israel Defense Forces statement said. Since September, the IDF said it has found and destroyed 58 workshops in Gaza.

In addition, "IDF forces destroyed the house of Mohammad Farhat, who was involved in the terror attack in which five teenagers killed and 20 wounded," IDF said. The 18-year-old militant was shot dead in the Jewish settlement of Atzmona in March during the attack.

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At least nine Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli troops in Gaza. CNN's Matthew Chance reports (September 24)
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CNN's Ben Wedeman says the latest siege by Israeli troops is rebuilding support among Ramallah residents for Yasser Arafat (September 23)
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CNN's Matthew Chance examines whether or not Israel's containment of Arafat has disrupted any hope for Palestinian reform (September 23)
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Among suspects wanted by Israel

Tawfiq al-Tirawi

Head of general intelligence in West Bank. Israel alleges he transferred money and weapons for terrorist purposes and has been personally involved in terror action.

Amin al-Halo
Head of special forces of general intelligence of West Bank. Israel alleges he assisted terror operation cells in the West Bank and had contacts with terrorists and activists.

Abu Awad, also known as Mahmoud Damra
Head of Arafat's security Force 17. Israel accuses him of activating attacks on Israeli communities.

Khalid Shawish
Senior activist in presidential security forces whom Israel also suspects has aided terror.

Israeli military sources said the operation was aimed at destroying a total of three homes of Palestinian militants who were killed in previous operations after Israel said they carried out attacks against its civilians.

Another home that was demolished belonged to Jihad Alamirn, the former commander of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Gaza who was recently assassinated by the Israeli military, Palestinian sources said.

U.N. debate on Mideast conflict

The operation comes after a weekend in which Israeli forces demolished large sections of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Ramallah compound.

The U.N. Security Council early Tuesday approved a resolution condemning Israel's siege of Arafat's compound and calling for its end. The United States abstained, calling the resolution "one-sided." (Full story)

In Ramallah, Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat said Monday he sat down with Israeli security officials to discuss the end of the siege and later briefed Arafat.

An Israeli Defense Ministry spokesman said Arafat's chief lieutenant, Mahmoud Abbas -- also known as Abu Mazen -- had been given permission to hold talks with other Palestinian officials in Ramallah. In addition, the European Union's special Mideast envoy, Miguel Moratinos, was to meet with Abbas.

Israel stopped its demolition of Arafat's compound Sunday and sent in food and supplies but has maintained its siege around the one building still standing, where Arafat has been isolated since Thursday.

Israel is seeking the surrender of about 50 wanted Palestinian militants inside the compound. Arafat said that no militants are in the building and that he won't hand over any Palestinians to Israel.

In the meeting, Israelis requested the names of everyone in the compound, Erakat said, and the Palestinian leadership turned down the request. Erakat also said he demanded the siege be lifted.

The meeting between Erakat and the Israeli military officials produced no concrete results, he said, but another meeting is possible later.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres told CNN's "Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer" on Sunday that his country's hand was forced since the Palestinian Authority refused to police its own people.

Meanwhile, a person was killed Monday when Palestinian gunmen opened fire at visitors celebrating the Sukkot holiday in the Jewish enclave of Hebron in the West Bank, Israeli military sources said.

Ambulance services said that three other Israelis were wounded, including one seriously. Two of those hurt were children.



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