WEST BANK Israelis, Palestinians clash over settlements
Israel is blocking a plan to control security, the prime minister said.
JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israeli tanks and bulldozers moved toward the packed Jebaliya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip today, severing electricity and telephone lines in an operation to stop Palestinian rocket attacks, witnesses and Israeli officials said.
In the West Bank, the Palestinian prime minister complained to the United States that Israel is expanding its settlements and preventing Palestinian police from asserting their authority in the towns and cities.
"The Israelis are escalating the construction of the roads and the electricity and expanding the size of each settlement," said Ahmed Qureia after meeting U.S. Consul General David Pearce.
Qureia also said Israel is blocking his plan to put armed and uniformed police with marked police cars in the cities and towns, to help seize control of the streets from militants who roam freely with assault rifles.
"There is no security without an ability to control security, including whatever the security apparatus needs," Qureia told reporters.
In the past, Israel has targeted Palestinian police stations, which it says have provided aid to militants fighting Israel. The Palestinians have charged that Israel destroyed the only infrastructure they had to control the militants.
The U.S. Consulate declined to comment on the meeting.
But on Monday, the U.S. State Department criticized Israel for approving the construction of 600 housing units for Maaleh Adumim -- the West Bank's largest Jewish settlement. The United States said Israel had promised to end such activity when it approved the U.S.-backed road map for negotiations with the Palestinians.
In a separate development, the State Department updated its advisory warning against travel to the West Bank, Gaza and Israel, after the kidnapping of a U.S. citizen last week in the West Bank town of Nablus.
Militants held the unidentified American and two European hostages Saturday but released them unharmed several hours later after negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.
In Gaza, a helicopter flying cover for Israeli troops outside Jebaliya fired a missile as a warning to militants to keep their distance, wounding three Palestinians, witnesses and doctors said. It was not immediately clear if the wounded were militants or civilians.
The move toward Jebaliya expanded Israel's monthlong operation in the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip that began after two Israelis -- including a 4-year-old boy -- were killed by homemade rockets in Sderot, an Israeli town two miles from the Gaza perimeter fence.