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Raids kill 13 Palestinians in Gaza and West Bank

GAZA CITY -- Israeli forces killed 13 Palestinians in fighting in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank city of Nablus yesterday, as the army pressed a wide-ranging offensive against militants.

The raids were the latest in a three-week operation that began after Hamas-linked militants captured an Israeli soldier. The fighting has persisted even as Israel waged a second battle with Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon after they seized two soldiers last week.

``We have a forgotten war in Gaza and the West Bank," Palestinian lawmaker Saeb Erekat said. ``We urge the international community to offer direct intervention to stop this Israeli military escalation."

A UN report issued yesterday said the Israeli Army has carried out 168 airstrikes and fired more than 600 shells into Gaza, while Palestinian militants have fired 177 rockets toward Israel.

The report said 100 Palestinians have been killed since the Gaza offensive began, not counting the 13 yesterday.

Under cover of machine-gun fire early yesterday, tanks moved into the Mughazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip and took over several rooftops as bulldozers leveled farmland.

Fighting broke out and five militants were killed, Palestinians said. Another militant died in an airstrike in the camp after dawn, hospital officials said. Late yesterday, military aircraft fired on about 20 gunmen as they approached troops in the camp near the Israeli border, the army said. One person was killed and 20 were wounded, hospital officials said.

A second airstrike on another group last night killed a woman and wounded four people, hospital officials said. Several hours later an Israeli airstrike hit civilians and militants near a mosque in the camp, also wounding four people, Palestinian security officials said.

Nearly 80 Palestinians were wounded in the Israeli raid, hospital officials said.

The military said five Israeli soldiers were also wounded, two seriously.

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