Israeli planes raid Gaza Strip

Israeli warplanes raided the Gaza Strip early Tuesday, witnesses and the Israeli military said.

The air raid targeted a tunnel dug under the border between the south of the Strip and Egypt, near Rafah, the Palestinian witnesses said.

The Israeli army confirmed the target saying "aircraft attacked a tunnel used by smugglers".

There were no casualties reported in the raid.

Two explosions also shook Gaza City. The source of the blasts was not immediately clear.

A woman was slightly wounded when a rocket fired from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip crashed into southern Israel late on Monday, an army spokeswoman said

Scores of Palestinian police on Thursday raided the Ramallah home of ex-strongman Mohammed Dahlan who is under investigation for murder and corruption.

Witnesses in Ramallah's Al-Tirah neighbourhood said a large number of police and security forces had surrounded his home at 7:00 am (0400 GMT) before forcing their way in and arresting around 10 of his bodyguards.

They were also seen removing weapons, files and computers from his house, as well as the former internal security minister's two bullet-proof cars.

New graduates of a Palestinian Hamas military camp, ages 12-18, perform mock exercises during a graduation ceremony in Gaza City, on July 29, 2011.
New graduates of a Palestinian Hamas military camp, ages 12-18, perform mock exercises during a graduation ceremony in Gaza City, on July 29, 2011.

Dahlan, who continues to hold parliamentary immunity as an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, was understood to have been locked in a room of his house while security forces conducted the searches.

"We took 20,000 bullets and 15 guns including Kalashnikovs, M-16s and Uzis, as well as three pistols from Dahlan's house," a senior security official told AFP, saying all the weapons were unlicenced.

A neighbour told AFP that he heard security forces checking the weapons before confiscating them.

"I heard loud noises of weapons being checked and examined," he said. "I think they were weapons that were confiscated from Dahlan's house and they were being checked to make sure they did not have bullets in them," he said.

By 9:30 am (0630 GMT) the raid on the house was over, witnesses said, but police forces continued to surround the residence, controlling the flow of people into the house. Dahlan was apparently still inside.

Last month, Dahlan was expelled from the ruling body of president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah party over allegations of financial corruption and murder.

The raid was launched a day after officials at the Fatah Central Committee (FCC) said they had decided to refer his case to the attorney general and the anti-corruption commission.

Also on Wednesday, a Fatah court rejected an appeal by Dahlan against his expulsion from the party.

In its ruling, the court found that a June 12 decision by the FCC to expel Dahlan from the party was justified, thereby overturning his appeal, court official Jamal Muheisen told AFP.

The FCC decision to expel him must now be approved by a two-thirds majority of the Fatah Revolutionary Council.

Last month, the FCC had also backed a decision to extend the mandate of the committee probing Dahlan's affairs, allowing it to look into the affairs of his friends and associates.

Dahlan, who once held the internal security portfolio and was head of Gaza's powerful security forces, was formerly a leading figure within the secular Fatah movement which controls the Palestinian Authority.

Known for his fierce opposition to the Islamist Hamas movement, Dahlan led a merciless crackdown on the group in the 1990s, rounding up thousands of Islamists who refused to recognise the legitimacy of the newly-created Palestinian Authority.

But he fell from grace in June 2007 after the humiliating rout of his forces by Hamas fighters during days of fierce street battles in Gaza, which saw the Islamist faction expel Fatah forces from the territory.

Two years later, he returned to the political stage when he was elected to the FCC in August 2009.

But in December 2010, he was suspended from the committee which said it had set up a commission of inquiry to examine his finances and claims he tried to set up a personal militia.


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