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Old 08-19-2005, 07:24 AM  
jiveturkey jiveturkey is online now
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Missile fired at American ships

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By MARTIN MERZER

Knight Ridder Newspapers


JERUSALEM — A missile fired from Jordan missed two U.S. Navy ships docked in the Red Sea port of Aqaba on Friday morning, U.S. officials said. Another missile from Jordan slammed into Israeli territory near the airport in Eilat, nearly adjacent to Aqaba.

No Americans were injured, according to a Navy spokesman. But one Jordanian soldier reportedly was killed, another was injured and an Israeli civilian sustained minor injuries.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility. Tensions in the region have been high as Israel withdraws from its settlements in the Gaza Strip, an operation that pressed forward Friday. By the afternoon, 17 of the 21 Israeli settlements stood empty.

The missile fired at the American ships flew over the bow of the amphibious USS Ashland and struck a warehouse instead, according to a statement from the U.S. 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain. Also in port at Aqaba was the USS Kearsarge, an amphibious assault ship.

The Kearsarge normally carries a crew of 1,100 people and can carry a Marine detachment of 1,900; the Ashland normally carries 350 crew members and can transport a Marine detachment of about 400.

Jordanian officials said one Jordanian soldier stationed at the port suffered serious injuries in the attack and died later in a hospital. Another soldier was injured.

In Israel, a second rocket left a small crater in a road near the airport of the resort city of Eilat. A taxi driver passing through the area received minor injuries, Israeli officials said.

A third rocket reportedly landed near a hospital in Aqaba.

About nine miles separate Aqaba and Eilat, which sit at the northern edge of the Red Sea along the Jordanian-Israeli border.

Initial reports suggested that the missiles were Katusha-style rockets, often used by the pro-Iranian Shiite fundamentalist movement Hezbollah.

Islamic extremists have been critical of Jordan's close ties with the U.S. and its 1994 peace treaty with Israel.

In the Gaza Strip, meanwhile, Israeli forces completed the removal of about 50 Israeli settlers and infiltrators from the small community of Gadid. Most of the demonstrators did not offer active resistance, instead allowing themselves to be carried away.

It was the third day of the forcible removal, part of the unilateral withdrawal ordered by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to eliminate a flashpoint of confrontation between Israelis and Palestinians.

In Keren Atzmona, Israeli bulldozers began demolishing homes abandoned under protest by Israeli settlers on Wednesday.

Military commanders said all 8,500 Jewish settlers could be out of Gaza by Tuesday, well ahead of schedule, despite the suspension of activity late Friday and through all of Saturday for the Jewish Sabbath.

"We have several more stages to the evacuation," Maj. Gen. Dan Harel told Army Radio. ‘‘It could be that by Tuesday or Wednesday, all the settlers will be evacuated from the Gaza Strip."
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Old 08-19-2005, 07:28 AM   #2
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