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VOICE OF AMERICA
SLUG: 2-315856 Gaza Attack (L)
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=05/12/2004

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE=GAZA / ATTACK (LONG)

NUMBER=2-315856

BYLINE=ROSS DUNN

DATELINE=JERUSALEM

INTRO: A second Israeli armored vehicle has been destroyed in Gaza, one day after six soldiers died when an anti-tank bomb wrecked their personnel carrier. The radical group Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for Wednesday's blast, saying the latest attack had killed five more soldiers. Ross Dunn reports from Jerusalem.

TEXT: The Israeli armored vehicle was traveling in southern Gaza close to the border of Egypt when it was hit by an explosion.

The blast set off munitions inside the vehicle, which had been returning from a mission to destroy tunnels used to smuggle weapons into Gaza from Egypt.

Israeli jet fighters and military helicopters were seen patrolling the area, following the explosion.

Israeli tanks also moved into the edges of a nearby Palestinian refugee camp in Rafah, firing heavy machine guns.

The latest violence comes just one day after a bomb ripped apart another armored personnel carrier, killing six soldiers in a neighborhood of Gaza City.

Israeli forces have been combing the area for the remains of the dead soldiers after Palestinian armed groups collected the body parts and put them on display at a news conference.

The Palestinian Authority and Egypt demanded that the remains be handed back to Israel.

Palestinian Minister of Negotiations, Saeb Erekat said there was no case to keep the remains of the soldiers, despite the strong opposition among Palestinians to the Israeli military operations in their areas.

///EREKAT ACT BEGINS///

We condemn the Israeli incursion and attacks into Gaza. Despite all these difficulties, we are exerting every possible effort in order to return the Israeli soldiers' body parts.

///END ACT///

At least 11 Palestinians have been killed and more than 100 wounded since the Israelis launched a raid into Gaza City on Tuesday to find and destroy factories used to make weapons.

Four Palestinians were killed on Wednesday when Israeli military helicopters fired missiles into the Zeitoun neighborhood.

Israeli forces have vowed to keep forces in place there until their comrades' remains are handed over.

Bassam Eid, executive director of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, says Palestinian armed groups should give up the body parts.

He says their actions are harming the cause of ordinary Palestinians.

///EID ACT BEGINS///

Unfortunately, I think the Palestinians and the Israelis are living in a big chaos right now. And to show such kind of body parts on the table during the press conference, I think this is an inhuman attitude from the Palestinian side.

///END ACT///

Mr. Eid appealed to both Israel and the Palestinians to abandon the practice of using body parts as possible bargaining chips in negotiations. (Signed)

NEB/RD/KBK/MEM



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