Eight Palestinians killed, Hamas founder arrested

03 March 2003
Eight Palestinians died and tens of others were injured on 2 March, as Israeli forces raided the central Gaza refugee camp of El-Bureij. Some 40 tanks entered the camp, meeting fierce resistance. Local sources reported the death of a pregnant woman who was buried when two houses were bulldozed, and of a 13-year-old boy. It was the second such raid in as many nights, the first killing three Palestinians in the Khan Younis camp, and Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz vowed that the incursions would continue: 'In the Gaza Strip, we are going to intensify the pressure on Hamas, as we have done in the past weeks, and we are going to do the same thing in the West Bank,' he warned during a visit to Nablus. In Gaza, Israeli army operations have intensified since Hamas blew up an Israeli tank on 15 February, killing four soldiers. Before the latest raids, Israeli soldiers discovered a large roadside bomb in the Khan Younis area.

On 3 March, Israel announced the arrest of one of the founder members of Hamas, Mohammed Taha, during a Gaza raid. He is the most senior figure in the organisation to be arrested since the beginning of the current intifada in September 2000. A Hamas spokesman said that the loss was a major blow, but that the struggle would continue. Taha and his sons, all five of whom were also arrested, are accused of plotting attacks against Israelis.

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