Dominic Waghorn | Sky News
25 June 2009
Benjamin Netanyahu’s government hopes the move will help defuse growing tensions with the Obama Administration in America.
A rift between the two countries appears to be widening over Israel’s refusal to halt settlement building.
A meeting between Mr Netanyahu and US Middle East Envoy George Mitchell has been put off, reportedly because of growing frictions.
Israel has already lifted a number of checkpoints, and now says its military will refrain from entering Ramallah, Jericho, Bethlehem and Qalqilya except in cases where they believe attacks on Israelis are imminent.
Two nights ago in the Nablus village of Awata, a Palestinian family experienced one such Israeli military incursion.
Salah Awad told Sky News his sister-in-law was at home alone with seven of her children, aged two-and-a-half to 10.
“They came at midnight making a big noise to open the door,” he said. “But they didn’t say who they were. The children were very scared.”
Mr Awad claims the soldiers stayed for five hours, putting all the children in one room while ransacking the house.
“They destroyed all the furniture. They asked the children if their Dad carried a gun showing them their weapons.”
According to Mr Awad, three other homes in the village were searched but the Israelis found nothing.
The Israeli Defence Forces spokesman unit told Sky News its soldiers “uncovered AK-47 and Carl Gustov antitank rifles” during a “focused operation to uncover arms” in the area.