African Press International (API)

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Israeli air raid kills two in Gaza

Posted by African Press International on December 2, 2008

An Israeli air strike has killed two Palestinians and injured four others in the southern Gaza Strip, witnesses and hospital officials have said.
The Israeli army confirmed the air strike in the town of Rafah, and said Palestinian fighters had launched six mortar bombs across the border.

Relatives said both the Palestinians killed were civilians and one was aged 15.
Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, said one of its members was wounded in the incident.

Fighters have fired dozens of rockets and mortar bombs at Israel in the past three weeks after Israeli raids killed about a dozen gunmen.

Saying it was responding to the rocket attacks, Israel has tightened its closure of Gaza borders, choking off some food supplies to the territory and raising international concern.

The violence has strained a ceasefire in place since June, which is due to run out later this month.

Sherine Tadros, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Gaza, said the airstrike came justas a leading Hamas official had told Al Jazeera that talkswere to begin with various Palestinian factions to discuss the future of the truce with Israel.

Mosques desecrated

Meanwhile, in the West Bank, Jewish settlers desecrated mosques in two villages by spraying graffiti insulting the Prophet Mohammed.

Insults written in Hebrew were spray-painted on the walls of a mosque in Al Sawyeh village in the northern West Bank, Mohammed Abdelrahim, a local councillor, said.

The perpetrators also sprayed stars of David on the doors of several stores and slashed the tyres of eight cars in a pre-dawn attack, Abdelrahim said.

Settlers also painted stars of David and the word “Hebron” on two mosques in the villages of Sinjel et Turmusayya.

Hebronwasthe scene of clasheson Monday between security forces, Palestiniansand settlers who have defied a court orderto leave a house whose ownership is disputed.

Settler dispute

FivePalestinians, including a12-year-old boy,were injuredin the violence, Palestinian doctors said.

Settlers and Palestiniansthrew stones at each otherand at least two cars belonging to Palestinians were set ablaze inwhat the Israeli army described as a “riot”.

Thirteen settler families, who have been facing eviction for 18 months – have vowed to resist an Israeli court order to leave the building in Hebron that they insist they bought from Palestinians.

The settler families haveoccupied the building, which they call the “house of peace”,since March 2007.

An unnamed eyewitness told news agency AFP thatPalestinians were hurt by stone-throwing settlers who also “shot at the Palestinians but did not wound anyone”.

An Israeli army spokesman said: “Two settlers were wounded, and the army, border guards and police were trying to separate the two sides.”

Israeli officials said an Israeli teenager had suffered a serious head injury after Palestinians dropped a large rock on himduringviolence in the city.

Clashes frequently occur between bothsides because of a settler enclave established in the heart ofHebron and a further6,500-strong settlement living in Kiryat Arba on the outskirts of the city.

Livni criticised

Meanwhile, European politicians told Tzipi Livni, Israel’s foreign minister, on Tuesday that her country had to do more to stop the expansion of West Bank settlements.

The European parliament’s foreign affairs committee said settlers’ moves were threatening Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

Livni, in Brussels to seek closer ties with European Union, said it was no longer official Israeli policy to expand settlements in the West Bank and the government had been trying to reduce them since peace talks restarted last year.

Speaking to the committee, she said: “We are not trying to use or abuse the period of time in which we negotiate in order to have more land, or to get more land from the Palestinians.”

The foreign minister said “minor” efforts by some settler groups around the West Bank town of Hebron to expand their settlements would not derail peace talks or efforts to set up a Palestinian state.

Shesat through a barrage of criticism levied by several members of the committee,and also faced questions about what Israel was doing to alleviate the situation in Gaza.

Livni said Israel was allowing in humanitarian aid to ease the crisis there.


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