Posted by D from 22.214.171.124.cfl.rr.com (126.96.36.199) on Wednesday, May 28, 2003 at 10:46PM :
A PALESTINIAN GIRL VIEWS DAMAGE DONE TO HER FAMILY HOME BY ISRAELI SOLDIERS IN RAFAH IN SOUTHERN GAZA STRIP.
Israeli armored forces tore up farmland outside a Gaza Strip town on Tuesday, witnesses said, hours after a pullback that raised hopes for initial steps in the US-backed 'road map' plan.
Israel had relaxed its military grip on Beit Hanoun earlier in the day when troops withdrew from the Palestinian town into which it swept last week in what it called an operation to prevent militants firing homemade rockets into southern Israel.
After nightfall, eight tanks and several bulldozers entered orchards outside the town and set about razing them to deprive rocket squads of cover, witnesses said.
"Israeli forces have and will continue to operate in this area as long as necessary to protect Israeli citizens," an army spokesman said.
Beit Hanoun is in a border area that Israel claimed it wanted to hand over to Palestinian security control.
Palestinian security sources said Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and his security minister Muhammad Dahlan were set to tour the Beit Hanoun area to size up the situation and hear residents' concerns.
Meanwhile, UN special envoy for the Middle East peace process Terje Roed-Larsen said the United Nations would be forced to halt humanitarian work in Gaza unless Israel eased its grip on a key border crossing.
His warning came as Israeli and Palestinian envoys at the United Nations traded blame over a lack of progress on the US-backed 'road map' plan.
"In the current situation, it has become already impossible to carry out many humanitarian operations in a satisfactory manner," he said.
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