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Fighting Along Lebanese Border; Bethlehem Standoff Continues

Israeli helicopters began firing missiles on the Jenin camp before dawn, after hundreds of Palestinian militants reportedly ignored calls for surrender.

Israeli army officials claim at least 100 Palestinians have been killed in the camp. Two Israeli soldiers have been killed and one seriously injured.

Jamal Abdel Salam, a Jenin camp resident and member of the Islamic militant group Hamas, told the Associated Press that Israeli army bulldozers demolished nearly a dozen homes.

In Nablus, the largest city in the West Bank, Israeli snipers exchanged gunfire with Palestinian gunmen. Israeli tanks encircled the city, where they believe hundreds of Palestinian terrorists remain hidden. By Monday afternoon, Israeli officials said they controlled more than half the city.

Meanwhile, clashes between Hezbollah guerrillas and Israeli troops heated up along the Israeli-Lebanese border for the sixth straight day.

Lebanon’s Hezbollah guerrillas fired artillery rounds and anti-tank missiles on Israeli army posts, and Israeli troops retaliated with air strikes on the southern Lebanon towns Kfar Shouba and Hasbaya.

Witnesses near the border area told Reuters Hezbollah guerrillas fired on army posts in the disputed Shebaa Farms area, and the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. One Israeli soldier was injured during the Hezbollah attacks on the Shebaa Farms region, which have occurred nearly every day since the beginning of the Israeli offensive.

At least ten people have been injured from the Hezbollah attacks.

In Bethlehem, the stand-off between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian gunmen showed no signs of abating.

More than 200 Palestinian gunmen have been hiding inside the Church of the Nativity, the traditional birthplace of Jesus, for seven days, along with an undetermined number of Franciscan clerics.

Israeli Prime Minister Sharon said Israeli troops would continue to surround the church until the Palestinian gunmen released the Franciscan clerics, whom he described as hostages. Church officials, however, denied that the Palestinians were holding the clerics hostage, and said they would stay inside the church.

Senior Franciscan officials in Rome also accused Israeli troops of violating their promise not to attack the church.

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