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October 07, 2002

Ten Palestinians killed as Israeli tanks enter southern Gaza city: Palestinian officials.

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- Ten Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded Monday during an Israeli incursion into the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, officials and doctors said, most when an Israeli helicopter fired a missile that exploded in a crowd.

The Israeli military had no immediate comment on the missile explosion. Israeli military sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the operation in Khan Younis was limited and not a large-scale invasion. It came a few hours after Palestinians fired a mortar shell at a Jewish settlement in another part of the Gaza Strip, the military said.

The Israeli missile strike came at the end of the four-hour incursion. It wasn't clear what the target was. Residents said people came out into the streets around 4:30 a.m. when they heard the tanks pulling out, but two Israeli helicopters remained overhead, and one of them fired the missile.

Doctors said 10 people were killed in the raid, including eight in the missile attack. They said at least 65 people were wounded by the missile blast.

Abed Ouda, 29, said he was parking his car when the missile struck. "I heard a huge explosion," he said, "and people were wounded and bleeding on the ground in front of my car."

Dr. Mohammed Abu Dalal of Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis appealed for more doctors and supplies to help treat the large numbers of casualties.

After midnight, about 40 Israeli tanks, backed by helicopters, had entered the Khan Younis and shelled houses on the main street, witnesses said.

Israeli armored columns have frequently moved into Palestinian-controlled areas in recent weeks, destroying workshops where Israel says weapons are made and arresting terror suspects.

On Sunday, two Palestinian men were shot dead in the northern West Bank, one in a gunbattle with Israeli troops, the other allegedly shot by a Jewish settler in an olive grove.

Palestinians accused Jewish settlers of killing Hani Yousef, 22, as he was harvesting olives near his village, Aqraba. Another Palestinian farmer was shot and wounded by the settlers, who came from the nearby settlement of Itamar, according to the Palestinian mayor, Ghaled Mayadme.

Israeli police spokesman Gil Kleiman said the farmer's death was being investigated, but no arrests had been made. The farmer had been shot in the back, he said.

In the Jenin Refugee Camp, also in the northern West Bank, Israeli troops killed Samer Jalamneh, a 22-year-old member of the radical Islamic Jihad movement, after he opened fire at them with an assault rifle, witnesses and the military said.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, speaking from the remnants of his Ramallah compound, accused the Israeli army of covering up settlers' actions.

"The army is protecting their daily crimes against Palestinian residents in their homes and against Palestinian farmers," Arafat said after a meeting with Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Committee of Red Cross, who is touring Israel and Palestinian areas this week.

Also, the Palestine Legislative Council gave Arafat another four weeks to appoint a new Cabinet, following the resignation of his previous Cabinet last month, Palestinian parliament speaker Ahmed Qureia said.

Arafat asked the legislature for an extension on his original two-week deadline to name a new Cabinet after Israeli troops besieged his Ramallah compound, destroying several buildings. Palestinian reform plans were put on hold during the siege.

In Jerusalem, four Arab residents of the city's traditionally Arab eastern sector, accused of helping bombers carry out three attacks that killed 35 people and wounded almost 200, went on trial amid a flood of insults from relatives of the Israeli victims.

Relatives shouted obscenities and insults at the accused. "You should all be strung up on a crane," said Gila Arazi, aunt of Danit Dagan, who was killed with her fiancee, when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the Cafe Moment in Jerusalem on March 9.

In addition to that attack, which killed 11, the group is accused of helping to arrange a suicide bombing that killed 15 at a pool hall in Rishon Letzion, near Tel Aviv, and planting a bomb at a cafeteria in Jerusalem's Hebrew University that killed five Americans and four Israelis.

Inside the courtroom, the four accused and their families were protected by riot police, who stood in a row facing the angry relatives of the victims. The accused, Wael Qassem, Wissam Abassi, Ala Abassi and Muhammed Oudeh, sat handcuffed to prison guards. The prisoners' legs were also shackled.

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