Israelis kill 11 in West Bank incursion

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip

Backed by helicopter gunfire, dozens of Israeli tanks rolled into Gaza City late yesterday, setting off clashes that left 11 Palestinians dead and 20 wounded, Palestinian hospital officials said.

The incursion, the second in Gaza in as many days, led to the highest death toll in an Israeli operation since Jan. 26, when 12 Palestinians were killed in another part of Gaza City.

The Israeli action was part of a crackdown after the militant Islamic group Hamas blew up a tank over the weekend, killing four soldiers. Hamas claimed today that once again, it destroyed a tank, this time with a suicide bomber.

The Israeli military said it knew nothing about an attack on its tank and would only say that the incursion was limited in nature, not an invasion of Gaza.

The violence followed an Israeli decision to lift a quarantine on the West Bank and Gaza that had idled thousands of Palestinians who work in Israel, as Palestinian officials appealed for huge amounts of aid to rescue their conflict-battered economy.

Witnesses said about 40 Israeli tanks converged on the Shajaiyeh neighborhood from three directions residents said, and several tanks also surrounded a Hamas elementary school in the nearby Tufah section. Soldiers blew up a metal workshop, one of the largest in the city, Palestinians said. Israel charges that Palestinians use such workshops to produce weapons.

Club owner faces charges after stampede


A day after 21 people were killed in a nightclub stampede, Chicago officials asked a judge yesterday to jail the owner for at least a year for allegedly operating the place in defiance of a shutdown order.

The city asked Cook County Circuit Judge Daniel Lynch to impose the criminal contempt of court sentence on Dwain Kyles, saying he ignored the judge’s previous order to shut down because of building code violations that included failing to provide enough exits.

“You don’t have a right to disobey a court order until someone catches you or until a disaster happens,” Mayor Richard Daley said.

The owners of the E2 nightclub contended they had a deal to stay open, despite the building code violations. The city sought immediate action on its petition to hold Kyles in criminal contempt, but Lynch told city attorneys that Kyles had not yet been served with the papers. The judge also said he would give the two companies 10 days to answer. The city also asked the judge to fine Kyles and his company, Le Mirage Inc., which owned the nightclub, and to fine a second company, Lesly Motors Inc., which owns the building.

East Coast recovers from winter storm


The Northeast struggled to dig out yesterday from a paralyzing storm that unloaded up to 4 feet of snow, busted city snow-removal budgets and stranded thousands of people at airports up and down the East Coast.

The storm, blamed for 37 deaths, finally headed out to sea after taking a parting shot at Boston, which got an all-time record of 27.5 inches by the time the snow stopped falling yesterday morning. Homeowners and motorists dug out their cars and doorways and toiled to reopen driveways that had been sealed shut by passing snowplows.

“What can you do?” said 38-year-old Brian Shipley of Rockville, Md., standing waist-deep in the mini-canyon he had shoveled in the path to his door. “You dig out and you get ready for tomorrow.”

A few blocks away, acupuncturist Cindy Clark foresaw a lot of sore backs. “There’s going to be more work than I can handle for a long time,” she said.

Bush turns to faith in difcult times


President Bush, often portrayed as using a strict good-and-evil compass to navigate national issues, has always peppered his speeches with exhortations to moral and civic duty. With war, tragedy and terrorism confronting him now, his allusions to spirituality and morality seem to be increasing.

“I welcome faith to help solve the nation’s deepest problems,” Bush told a convention of religious broadcasters last week. Referring to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he said, “We carried our grief to the Lord Almighty in prayer.”

Earlier, in his State of the Union address, he said, “The liberty we prize is not America’s gift to the world, it is God’s gift to humanity.”

Hours after the shuttle Columbia disintegrated, Bush turned to religion and a quote from the book of Isaiah to help console the nation.

Probation violation lands Canseco in jail


Jose Canseco was sent to jail yesterday after violating his probation for a 2001 nightclub brawl. The former major league slugger could be held until a scheduled March 17 hearing, Judge Leonard Glick ruled.

“I understand that I have to take responsibility,” Canseco said. “I ask for the mercy and understanding of the court.” Shortly after, Glick ordered Canseco into custody. “No bond,” Glick said.

Wearing a dark double-breasted suit, the 38-year-old Canseco handed his wallet and a thick silver necklace to his lawyer before being led out of the courtroom, his hands cuffed behind his back.

Glick issued a warrant for Canseco’s arrest Friday after being told the six-time All-Star had failed to begin anger control classes and community service, and had left Florida for longer than 30 days.

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