ARTAS, West Bank (AP) Israeli troops backed by tanks raided this Palestinian village in the West Bank early yesterday, arresting three suspected militants. Six Palestinians were hurt in clashes, officials and witnesses said.
The Israeli troops entered Artas, south of Bethlehem, and arrested a senior figure in the militant Islamic Jihad movement, one of the groups that has carried out suicide bomb attacks in Israeli cities, the army said.
The wounded Palestinians including four with bullet wounds, but their lives were not in danger, a Palestinian hospital official said. One was a pregnant woman hit in the leg while she was sleeping, but her unborn baby was unharmed, said Dr. Peter Qumri, director of the hospital in nearby Beit Jalla. The army said its soldiers opened fire when fired upon.
Eight cars were crushed flat by the tanks and soldiers threw a grenade into one house, burning furniture and smashing all the windows in the room. The soldiers searched houses and questioned residents, before withdrawing after about three hours, residents said.
Yesterday afternoon, Israeli troops and tanks entered Palestinian territory in the central Gaza Strip, occupying the municipality building in the village of Abu Hajim, Palestinian witnesses and security sources said. It was not clear what prompted the Israeli action, and the military did not immediately comment.
The army raid into the village of Artas came two days after a Palestinian woman blew herself up in downtown Jerusalem, killing an elderly Israeli.
Shortly afterward the Artas raid and a few miles away, Palestinian gunmen opened fire on the Jewish neighborhood of Gilo on the southern edge of Jerusalem. Gilo is built on land captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war, and has come under frequent Palestinian fire during the 16 months of Mideast fighting.