target of Israeli attack
Israeli occupation troops had earlier in the day withdrawn from the town. They entered the town last Thursday ostensibly to prevent Palestinian fighters from firing homemade rockets into southern Israel.
Eight tanks and several bulldozers returned after nightfall and forced their way into orchards outside the town, and set about razing them. The attacking force demolished several houses too.
The stated reason for the attack was to deprive Palestinian rocket squads of cover.
"Israeli forces have and will continue to operate in this area as long as necessary to protect Israeli citizens," an army spokesman said.
Abbas to visit
Palestinian security sources said Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and his Security Minister Mohammed Dahlan would tour the Beit Hanoun area on Wednesday to size up the situation.
The attack on the Palestinian orchards happened even as talks between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon have ended in a stalemate.
Both sides are deadlocked about who should make the first moves to implement the peace "road map" that aims to end the conflict between the two sides.