Gulf & Middle East
Israel escalates military actions in Palestinian areas
Apr 22, 2007 - 7:23:10 PM

Gaza/Ramallah, April 22 - The Israeli army has escalated its military actions against the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since Saturday, killing at least nine Palestinians.

Palestinian observers considered the Israeli actions 'a sudden escalation that Israel wants to make future political achievements or escape from commitments to resume the stalled peace process.'

On Sunday, a 16-year-old boy was killed near the village of Aabood west of the West Bank city of Ramallah on a second day of Israeli military escalation that left also eight others dead.

Medics at Ramallah Hospital said that Kareem Zahran was killed as a result of being shot in the chest during clashes between the Israeli army and students who threw stones at the soldiers.

Earlier in the morning, the Israeli army killed two militants belonging to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party in Nablus city.

On Saturday evening, a bystander was killed in an Israeli air raid at a car carrying militants in northern Gaza Strip. Five others were shot dead in operations in northern West Bank, including a 17-year-old girl.

Following the escalation of Israeli operations, the Islamic Resistance Movement -, which leads the Palestinian unity government, urged the militant groups to prepare for a new round of violence against the Jewish state.

In a statement sent to reporters, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoom called on the militant factions 'to unite and use all means of resistance to respond to the massacres committed by the Israeli occupation.'

Hamas also called on Abbas to stop any future meetings with Israeli officials, including Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who is set to meet Abbas biweekly.

Moreover, a militant leader of Fatah's armed wing in Nablus said, 'We don't relay on Abbas-Olmert meetings because they are often followed by assassinations.'

Mustafa al-Barghouti, spokesman for the Palestinian government, said the Israeli operation 'was a planned military response to the Palestinian initiatives that seek to cover the West Bank with the ceasefire.'

'The Israeli government is crippled and tries to hide its failure by resorting to military means,' said al-Barghouti.

The Palestinians should be watchful and withdraw pretexts from Israel through diplomacy while working to face the Israeli aggression, said political analyst Hani al-Masri.

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