Israel reoccupies Palestinian portions of Gaza
GAZA CITY, Gaza -- Israel reoccupied sections of the Palestinian-controlled Gaza Strip on Tuesday, cutting the area into three parts in a series of raids by land, air and sea.
Israeli officials said their troops would remain in sectors that they consider pose a threat until the violence ceases or the Palestinian Authority takes action to end violence against Israelis.
Israeli authorities said the action was in response to five mortar shells fired at the Negev Desert town of Sderot in southern Israel. Gaza's main road remains blocked off.
A statement sent to news organizations from the military wing of the Muslim group Hamas in turn said the attack was in retaliation for recent Israeli actions. The group vowed to launch more attacks.
The mortar bombs landed deeper in Israel than any since the start of the latest Palestinian uprising for independence last September, falling just down the road from Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's ranch.
The Israeli moves in Gaza also followed by a day an Israeli strike against a Syrian radar installation in Lebanon that killed three soldiers.
Troops to remain indefinitely
After the massive strikes -- Israeli's hardest punch at the Palestinians in seven months of violence -- Israeli Brig. Gen. Ron Kitrey said troops would remain in the recaptured areas of Gaza indefinitely.
"Once the mission is fulfilled and the shooting stops or the Palestinian Authority takes action to stop it, I believe we won't need to remain there," Kitrey told Israel army radio.
Palestinian Cabinet minister Hassan Asfour blasted the move.
"It's clear that Israel has expanded the sphere of war with the Palestinians," he said. "It has carried out a new and dangerous step by reoccupying Palestinian areas."
Israeli forces hit Palestinian police targets in central Gaza and the headquarters of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's's elite personal guard unit Force-17.
Palestinian hospital authorities said at least 35 people had been wounded in the attacks overnight.
In addition to the reoccupation, Israel has closed off Gaza. No one can enter or leave the area.
On the West Bank, Israeli troops shot dead 17-year-old Palestinian Bassam Zaharan, who Israelis said had stabbed an Israeli soldier.
In addition, the Palestine Red Crescent Society said a 12-year-old Palestinian boy was shot and killed near Karni Crossing and a 10-year-old boy was wounded when he walked in front of a tank at Rafah on the Egyptian border and was shot in the head.
More than 420 Palestinians have been killed in the seven months of violence, along with 71 Israeli Jews, 13 Israeli Arabs and a German.
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