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April 20, 2003

5 Killed, 40 Wounded in Mideast Clashes

This piece sums up the military actions for the past day or so. Seems the Palestinians trying to make sure the Road (the Bush plan) has tunnels under it
Dozens of Israeli tanks backed by attack helicopters pushed into the Rafah refugee camp Saturday, one of the largest military incursions into the Gaza Strip in 30 months of fighting, Palestinians said.

At least five Palestinians were killed, including a 15-year-old boy, doctors said. Witnesses said at least 40 people were wounded.

The incursion came as Palestinian leaders raced to meet a self-imposed deadline for a new Palestinian government a key requirement toward unveiling a U.S.-backed peace plan.

Also Saturday, a cameraman for Associated Press Television News was shot and killed while filming clashes in which 17 Palestinians were wounded in the West Bank city of Nablus.

The incursion appeared to have targeted the Yibna neighborhood, one of two known militant strongholds in Rafah.

Israeli forces penetrated the camp from three directions using more than 35 tanks and armored personnel carriers, bulldozers and jeeps. Five attack helicopters circled overhead, flashing spotlights.

"I was sitting outside with some friends playing cards when suddenly we came under fire," said Marwan Khatib, 39, who lives in the camp.

The Israeli military said soldiers destroyed two tunnels used for smuggling weapons under the Gaza-Egypt border and blew up the house of local Hamas leader Mahmoud Abu Shamala.

In a statement, the military said Palestinians attacked the Israelis with firearms, explosives and anti-tank rockets, and soldiers returning fire hit some of the gunmen. The Israelis pulled out before daybreak, the statement said[more]