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Israeli Troops Enter Hebron After Ambush

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Israeli troops enter Hebron after ambush

Palestinian girl killed in Gaza house

Tuesday, October 8, 2002 Posted: 6:21 PM EDT (2221 GMT)

HEBRON, West Bank (CNN) -- Hours after four Israelis were wounded in a roadside ambush, Israeli armored personnel carriers rolled into the West Bank city of Hebron Tuesday.

While that operation pressed on, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society reported Israeli troops shot and killed a 12-year-old Palestinian girl in her Rafah home in southern Gaza. The Israeli army said it was checking details of the incident.

The Israeli army would not specify how many military vehicles were patrolling the Hebron area, but said it sent in "more APCs than regularly" to impose a curfew after the shooting incident.

The four Israelis were shot during an ambush along a settler road near Hebron. Authorities said two of the wounded were in serious condition.

Earlier, the Israeli army said it arrested six Palestinians in Gush Katif in Gaza and one near the Jewish settlement of Gadid in southern Gaza for questioning.

Tuesday's activity followed a bloody couple of days in the Middle East.

An offensive by Israeli helicopters and dozens of tanks early Monday in the Gaza city of Khan Yunis left 15 people dead, including a woman and child, and wounded about 150 others, the Palestine Red Crescent Society and hospital sources said.

The raid ended after several hours and was immediately condemned by Palestinian leaders. The Israeli military said its forces were firing on a group of gunmen who shot at them first.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan was deeply critical of the Israeli attack, his spokesman said.

Annan was particularly concerned by reports that a missile from an Israeli helicopter gunship was fired into a crowd of civilians "in reckless disregard of the obligation under international humanitarian law to protect the civilian population. Such actions have no legal or moral justification," spokesman Fred Eckhard said.

The Bush administration said Monday it was "deeply troubled" by the strike and called on the Israeli military to investigate.

"We think it's very important that Israeli forces do their utmost to act in a manner that avoids harm to civilians and to humanitarian facilities, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said. "We expect immediate steps to be taken to prevent the recurrence of tragic incidents such as these."

In another incident Monday, masked men in Gaza City gunned down Rajeh Abu Lihya, commander of the Palestinian Authority's law and order unit in Gaza, Palestinian sources said.

The Palestinian Authority blamed Izzedine al Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, for the killing. The U.S. State Department labels Hamas a terrorist organization.

A gunbattle erupted a short time later between Palestinian police and Hamas members. Two Hamas activists were killed and at least 15 were wounded, hospital sources said. CNN reporters saw cars loaded with Palestinian police headed out of Gaza City apparently in pursuit of other gunmen.

Israel Radio quoted Hamas leader Abed al Aziz Rantisi as urging the Fatah movement's Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the radical Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and other militant groups to join Hamas in a wave of terror attacks against Israelis in retaliation for the Israeli raid at Khan Yunis.

Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades has carried out numerous attacks against military targets and civilians in Israel and in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. In March 2002, the U.S. State Department designated it a foreign terrorist organization.

The PFLP is a Palestinian militant group that has committed numerous international terrorist attacks and has conducted attacks against Israeli or moderate Arab targets, according to the U.S. State Department.

CNN Correspondent Alessio Vinci in Gaza and State Department Producer Elise Labott contributed to this report.

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