Israeli settlers have hauled bulldozers, cement mixers and other construction equipment into a Jewish settlement deep inside the West Bank, Israeli and Palestinian officials said today, a day before the end of a government-mandated halt to settlement building.
PALESTINIAN forces stormed a Hamas hideout in the northern West Bank, setting off a fierce battle that left six dead yesterday in the bloodiest factional violence since the Palestinian president launched a crackdown on the Islamic militant group two years ago.
Palestinian leaders anxiously followed reports on Ariel Sharon’s deteriorating health tonight, fearing the prime minister’s departure from the political scene could worsen turmoil in the West Bank and Gaza and perhaps even derail this month’s elections there.
A young Palestinian suicide bomber blew up a felafel stand in an open-air marketplace yesterday, killing five Israelis and wounding 30, putting a damper on peace prospects following Israel’s pullout from Gaza a month ago and embarrassing Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
Palestinian police are incapable of controlling armed militants, and al-Qaida is posed to infiltrate the Gaza Strip and Israel, Israel’s domestic security chief warned today, reflecting deep Israeli concerns over threats that could result from chaos in Gaza following its handover to the Palestinian Authority.
Jubilant Palestinians fired guns in the air and sounded car horns today, after Israeli troops pulled out of the last of four abandoned Jewish West Bank settlements, completing the final phase of the withdrawal it began in Gaza last month.
Violence between Jewish settlers and soldiers erupted in a West Bank extremist stronghold as the evacuation of Gaza neared completion, with only one settlement left to be emptied and others already turned into piles of rubble by Israeli bulldozers.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians crowded into Gaza City’s small fishing harbour today to celebrate the impending Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, waving flags and hearing promises from their leader, Mahmoud Abbas, that the West Bank and Jerusalem will be next.