Israeli forces left the West Bank village of Beit Rima early today after a bloody raid.
The Israeli army tried to prevent journalists from gaining access to the town. The Palestinian leadership isdescribing it as a "massacre."
Hundreds of Israeli troops swept through the village in the barren hills north of Ramallah, bursting into homes andhauling off around 50 men at gunpoint. Palestinian sources say Israeli soldiers killed 9 Palestinians in Beit Rimaalone.
The raid was part of a violent Israeli invasion of several West Bank villages in which Palestinians say Israelitroops have killed more than 50 Palestinians. No Israeli has been killed. Israel launched the invasion after theassassination of its right-wing tourism minister by members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon took a political gamble when he ignored a toughly worded US demand Monday to get out"immediately" and stay out of the West Bank towns. But after Sharon’s refusal, President Bush softened his line,calling only for a withdrawal "as soon as possible."
Sharon is now set to meet top ministers to discuss a possible pull-out of the West Bank, but the killing continues onthe ground. In Bethlehem, which has been a flashpoint in the latest invasion, Israeli soldiers shot dead a20-year-old Palestinian policeman.
- Ziad Abbas, founder of the Deheishe refugee camp.
- Manar Farag, from the Deheishe refugee camp.