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The BBC's Samantha Simmonds
"Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak knows that he is way behind in the polls"
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The BBC's Paul Adams in Jerusalem
"The Israelis are saying that they are concerned"
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Thursday, 18 January, 2001, 20:48 GMT
Bloody end to Mid-East 'internet tryst'
Ramallah
It was unclear what had happened for 24 hours
A 16-year-old Israeli boy's trip to visit his supposed online lover ended bloodily on Thursday when his body was found riddled with bullets near the West Bank town of Ramallah.

Israeli security sources said the boy was a resident of the Israeli town of Ashkelon and had been missing for a few days before an army patrol found him.

A Palestinian medical official said the man, who was not carrying any identification, matched a description of a missing Israeli.

Israel army radio suggested the victim was lured to the area through an exchange of e-mails with a woman.

Ambush witnesses

A young man and a Palestinian woman were seen driving from Jerusalem towards Ramallah on Wednesday, when witnesses said they were ambushed by three people.

Regional map
The witnesses say that the ambushers shot the young man, dragged his body into the trunk and drove into Ramallah.

The woman then moved to the driver's seat and followed the other car, implying she was involved in the ambush, witnesses told the French news agency AFP.

The killing appears likely to be related to the 16-week Palestinian uprising in which more than 360 people have been killed, the vast majority of them Palestinians.

Killing condemned

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak said it was a "cruel and very serious murder" and everything would be done to capture and punish the killers.

The Palestinian Authority also condemned the murder of Israeli civilians, "even if the Israelis have killed numerous civilians", a statement said.

Israel has accused the Palestinians of not moving with any force to control extremists who murder Jewish civilians.

A senior officer said there was now a permissive atmosphere which allowed such murders to take place.

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