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Tension Running High in Gaza in Aftermath of Ambush on IDF

Tension remained high in the Gaza Strip, following an ambush by Palestinians that killed three Israeli army reservists Monday.

Some 30,000 Palestinian workers stayed home from jobs in Israel as the army imposed a curfew on the half-million residents of the strip and closed crossings into Israel.

Army sources said the area would be sealed off for at least a few days as security forces search for the terrorists who fired at the soldiers’ jeep from a Peugeot in a pre-dawn attack near the city of Gaza.

Hamas fundamentalists have taken responsibility for the assault, which coincided with the fifth anniversary of the Palestinian uprising. Leaflets calling for a general strike in commemoration of the intifada were distributed at the Jabalya refugee camp, Israel Radio reported.

Meanwhile, a former Likud defense minister has called for a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

“I’ve said it before; I think we should withdraw,” Moshe Arens told army radio. He said the gains from staying in the strip are not worth the resources invested in it.

But Foreign Minister Shimon Peres disagreed, saying it is preferable to make a concerted effort to reach an accord with the Palestinians on the strip.

“A withdrawal now would create mayhem, a Lebanonization of the strip, for which we would have to pay the price,” Peres told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

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