Israeli Tanks Move Into West Bank City of Hebron, Witnesses Say

Israeli tanks rolled into the West Bank city of Hebron early Thursday, firing in all directions, Palestinian witnesses said. But it was unclear if the move signaled a full-scale invasion of the city.

The Israeli military had no immediate comment. The witnesses counted seven or eight Israeli tanks moving about half a mile into the city, in the southern part of the West Bank.

During Israel's large-scale military operation in the West Bank, which began March 29 in response to a series of Palestinian suicide bomb attacks, Hebron was left alone while Israeli forces entered most of the other main Palestinian population centers.

Hebron is a constant source of tension. It is the only West Bank city divided into Israeli and Palestinian zones, as Israeli forces control a section of the city where about 450 Israeli settlers live in three enclaves. There are frequent clashes between the two sides.

On Monday, a Marwan Zalloum, the commander of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade militia, and his bodyguard were killed in an Israeli helicopter missile attack. Israel said Zalloum was responsible for a string of attacks against Israelis, including the gunfire death of a 10-month-old baby in one of the Jewish enclaves in the city.