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Palestinian Security Buildings Come Under Attack from Israel

By Mary Curtius
LOS ANGELES TIMES -- JERUSALEM

Israel blasted buildings of Palestinian security forces in the Gaza Strip with missiles Thursday, a day after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon held the Palestinian Authority responsible for the slayings of two Jewish teenagers.

Five surface-to-surface missiles slammed into downtown Gaza City. Dozens of people were injured, Palestinians said, and five were hospitalized.

The attack came hours after a roadside bomb killed two Romanian workers who were repairing a Gaza border fence for the Israelis.

Israeli troops also thrust several hundred yards into Palestinian-controlled territory in Gaza on Thursday, bulldozing crops and destroying a police outpost near the Kissufim crossing, where the Romanian workers were killed. Palestinians said three police officers and a civilian were wounded in a firefight that ensued.

“We are hitting where mortar fire and other attacks emanate from,” said Raanan Gissin, Sharon’s spokesman.

The Palestinian security forces with which Israel worked until fighting erupted in September “stopped being security forces a long time ago,” Gissin said. “They became terrorist forces, and we warned them several times against continuing this policy.”

Three of the missiles fired in the late afternoon reportedly struck Palestinian police headquarters. At least one other missile hit the offices of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat’s Fatah faction, about 400 yards from his headquarters on the Gazan coast. Arafat reportedly was unharmed.

Israeli commentators blamed Islamic religious leaders and the Palestinian Authority for inciting acts of individual revenge against Jews.

But Palestinians denied that the killings were an anti-Semitic act, or that incitement in Palestinian and Arab media, which some intellectuals acknowledge does exist, is the cause for such attacks.