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VOICE OF AMERICA
SLUG: 2-315799 Israel / Palestinians
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=05/11/2004

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE=ISRAEL/ PALESTINIANS (LONG)

NUMBER=2-315799

BYLINE=ROSS DUNN

DATELINE=JERUSALEM

CONTENT=

VOICED AT:

INTRO: At least six Israeli soldiers and four Palestinians have been killed during fierce fighting in Gaza City.

Israeli troops searching for weapons factories in Gaza came under fire from Palestinians, who also detonated a roadside bomb as an Israeli armored car went by. Ross Dunn reports from Jerusalem.

TEXT: Israeli forces, backed by tanks and helicopter gun ships, came under strong attack Tuesday after launching a raid into a neighborhood of Gaza City.

The Israeli Army reported casualties after a bomb exploded under an armored personnel carrier.

The militant group Hamas, which is on the State Department's list of terrorist organizations, claimed responsibility for the blast, saying it had used an anti-tank missile to force the vehicle into an area where it had previously planted bombs.

Israeli troops also met fierce resistance from Palestinian gunmen, and troop reinforcements were sent to Gaza in an effort to prevent more soldiers from being killed.

Palestinian residents said Israeli soldiers took over several high-rise buildings by blasting open doors and placing snipers on rooftops.

The Israeli Army also divided the Gaza Strip into three sections in a bid to stop Palestinian militants from coming from other areas of the territory to join the fighting.

Tuesday's military raid is the first major ground operation since Palestinian gunmen killed a pregnant Jewish settler and her four daughters in an ambush in the Gaza Strip, a week ago.

The attack came on the same day that Israel's ruling Likud Party overwhelmingly voted in a referendum against Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon's plan to unilaterally withdraw troops and settlements from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank.

Mr. Sharon has vowed to keep fighting Palestinian armed groups, while he discusses with Cabinet Ministers new proposals for an alternative disengagement plan. (Signed)

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