Israeli troops imposed a curfew on downtown Nablus and clashed with Fatah fighters as the army moved Thursday from Gaza to the West Bank.
The Nablus raid was an indication that Israel will not stop fighting President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement — even though Israel is supporting Abbas in his struggle against Hamas.
The Nablus operation, which Palestinian witnesses said was the largest in several months, began late Wednesday as two fiercely resisted incursions into Hamas-controlled Gaza were ending.
In those operations, Israeli forces killed 11 Palestinians, including a 12-year-old boy, in the bloodiest fighting since the Hamas takeover. The dead also included eight fighters.
In Nablus, five Israeli soldiers were wounded by bombs set off by Fatah fighters overnight in the old, densely populated part of the city known as the casbah, where troops entered houses searching for gunmen and weapons. One Fatah man was arrested, the army said.
The army interrupted broadcasts on the city's radio and TV stations, and Nablus residents heard instead warnings in Arabic not to leave their homes.
On Thursday morning, the streets were empty except for armored military jeeps.
This week, Abbas announced that he would disarm all fighters in the West Bank, even Fatah who nominally owe him allegiance — the same ones battling the Israelis in Nablus.
In one possible indication of its likely fate, a Fatah fighters in the West Bank town of Jenin told The Associated Press that while he supported Abbas' decree, his men would not lay down their arms because they were needed to fight Israel.
Last Mod: 28 Haziran 2007, 12:31