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Last Updated:  Friday, 7 March, 2003, 22:32 GMT
Gunmen attack Jewish settlers
A day of violence across the Palestinian territories has left at least two Israeli civilians and seven Palestinian gunmen dead.

In one attack in the West Bank, two gunmen infiltrated a Jewish settlement and shot dead the settlers - believed to be a married couple - before troops killed them in turn.

Eight other people, including a number of soldiers, were also wounded in the attack on the settlement of Kiryat Arba, near Hebron.

Earlier on Friday, the army seized part of the northern Gaza Strip in an operation to stop rocket attacks across the boundary into Israel.

Tension is high in Israel and the Palestinian territories, where dozens of people have been killed over the past few days.

The military wing of the Palestinian militant group Hamas claimed responsibility for the Kiryat Arba killings.

Gunmen disguised

According to eyewitnesses, the gunmen slipped into the settlement disguised as Jewish seminary students.

After the gunmen entered a family home and opened fire, troops rushed to the scene and exchanged fire before the two Palestinians were killed.

Palestinian terrorists continue to attack on the holiest day of the Jewish week
David Baker, Israeli Government spokesman
The head of the settlement said one of the gunmen was believed to have been wearing an explosive belt.

In a second attempted attack on Friday night, Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinian gunmen trying to infiltrate the nearby settlement of Negohot, military sources said.

Palestinian militants frequently target Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza.

In January, a Jewish settler was shot dead by Palestinian gunmen on his doorstep close to Kiryat Arba.

That attack and the latest incidents occurred on the Jewish Sabbath.

Israeli Government spokesman David Baker said: "Palestinian terrorists continue to attack on the holiest day of the Jewish week."

Gaza 'security zone'

The Gaza Strip was also the scene of violence during the day.

Israeli troops shot dead three Palestinians after they opened fire on a convoy of Jewish settlers in the central Gaza Strip.

Israeli soldier in the Gaza Strip on Friday
Israel sent its troops in after rocket attacks
Earlier, troops seized a triangle of territory in the north of the Strip, creating what Israeli Army Radio called a "security zone".

An army spokesman said the operation was open-ended and aimed at preventing Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israel.

At least 60 Israeli tanks and other armoured vehicles were used in the operation near the towns of Beit Lahia and Beit Hanun, close to the refugee camp at Jabaliya.

The BBC's Andrew Webb
"They went on a shooting spree"

Israel and the Palestinians



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