Mideast Update 04-25

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obo, this is for you and anyone else that peeks in here. will try and at least put up the 'major' happenings here til we get back to normal [whatever that is] at our home bases.........

Full closure imposed; security forces on high alert By Margot Dudkevitch and David Rudge

JERUSALEM (April 25) - Security forces have been placed on high alert and are deployed at maximum strength throughout the country to safeguard Remembrance Day ceremonies today and Independence Day celebrations that start tonight.

With the threat of more terror attacks, security forces have beefed up their presence in cities and towns, focusing on populated areas and places of entertainment.

A general closure has been imposed on Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip, and will remain in effect until 2 a.m. Friday. During this period, Palestinians will be barred from entering Israel and no merchandise will be permitted into the country. The Allenby Bridge and Rafah border crossings will remain open, operating on a Shabbat schedule, and consideration will be given to humanitarian cases.

The IDF Spokesman reiterated orders barring Israelis from areas under Palestinian control, stressing that their lives are in danger there.

An Israeli civilian was lightly injured by shots from a passing car near Talmon, north of Ramallah, late last night.

Early yesterday evening, Palestinians in Khan Yunis fired three mortar shells at the Gush Katif settlement of Gadid. The shells landed between the hothouses and homes. No one was wounded but one of the hothouses was lightly damaged. The attack occurred after several days of respite from mortar fire in the area.

Last night, Palestinians in Rafah shot at an IDF position close to the Israeli-Egyptian border, and soldiers returned fire.

Earlier in the afternoon, reserve soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian who crossed into Israel north of Kibbutz Nahal Oz.

The soldiers said they shot him after he scaled the fence around the Gaza Strip, and refused orders to halt as he charged at them. They fired warning shots into the air and then at the ground before shooting him, the army said.

"The soldiers fired without the intention of harming him, but the Palestinian continued to come toward them and they shot and killed him," the IDF Spokesman said.

Palestinian police told Reuters that the man was Youssef Abu Hamda, 40, who was a mentally disturbed resident of Shati refugee camp. They said Israel had informed them of the incident and asked that they send an ambulance to retrieve the body.

A number of grenades were thrown at an army post near Rafah close to the Israeli-Egyptian border, and shots were fired at an IDF position at the community of Ganei Tal.

In the West Bank, medical sources said troops shot and killed Iyad Heresh, 27, during a clash with stone-throwing protesters near Kalkilya. The army confirmed that it had killed a Palestinian in the confrontation.

Last night, Palestinians shot at the hilltop settlement of Psagot and at an army vehicle north of Ofra. There were no casualties.

Earlier, Palestinians fired shots at Border Police bases near Jenin and Bethlehem.

Yesterday morning, traffic piled up on the Jerusalem-Modi'in road as police and IDF sappers searched the area for bombs. Shortly before midnight on Monday, sappers defused a bomb discovered near the entrance to the Givonim gas station, north of Jerusalem.

In the North, several hundred police, border policemen, civil guards, and volunteers will be on duty as part of the beefed up security measures.

Chief-Supt. Boaz Goldberg, spokesman for the northern region, said, "We have been on high alert, with large-scale deployment, for several weeks and this was one of the reasons why police were so quickly on the scene after receiving the report of a suspicious object at the Checkpost junction near Haifa on Sunday evening. We are further increasing our presence in the field to enable people to go out and celebrate Independence Day, but this does not detract from the need for the public to be on the alert and report anything that seems to be suspicious."

Investigations into the suicide bomb attack in Kfar Saba in which local resident Dr. Mario Goldin, 52, was killed, and 50 other people wounded have so far failed to produce any major leads.

A report that the attacker may have reached Kfar Saba in a taxi from Taiba was proved false when police traced the vehicle and the occupants. It transpired that two Arabs who had been in the taxi that continued to Tel Aviv were in no way connected to the bomb blast.

Police are also waiting for results of tests carried out on the suicide bomber to determine whether he belonged to Hamas, which at first stated he was from Gaza but then changed its claim, saying he was from Nablus. Security officials did not rule out the possibility that another suicide bomber affiliated with Hamas from Gaza may have already entered Israel and is planning to perpetrate a terror attack.

-- mutter (murmur@ya.com), April 25, 2001

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