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Thursday, 25 January, 2001, 19:22 GMT
Israeli shot dead in West Bank
Israeli soldier, religious aid workers, inspect ambushed vehicle
A Palestinian group said it carried out the shooting
An Israeli civilian has been shot dead in an ambush in the West Bank near Jerusalem.

The Israeli army said that Palestinian gunmen opened fire on the man's car as he was driving near the village of Bir Nabala, to the northwest of the city.


He received head wounds and later died at the scene.

A group believed to be an offshoot of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction later claimed responsibility for the drive-by shooting.

Israeli police said the gunfire came from the Atarot industrial zone, which is next to the main road leading from Jerusalem to the West Bank towns of Nablus and Ramallah.

It is inside Jerusalem's expanded boundaries, which includes areas which Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 war.

Barak condemnation

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak described the killing as a "despicable murder" and vowed to find the gunmen.

Motti Dayan,
Motti Dayan: His death triggered earlier Israeli walkout

But he stopped short of recalling the Israeli delegation holding talks with the Palestinians in the Egyptian resort of Taba, which resumed after a short break for consultations.

A senior West Bank Fatah official told Reuters news agency that a group called the "Brigades of Thabet Thabet" had claimed responsibility for the killing.

Thabet Thabet, a senior Fatah official, was killed last month in what Palestinians described as an Israeli assassination.

Funerals

More than 380 people have died since the start of the Palestinian uprising nearly four months ago, the majority of them Palestinians.

The latest killing came as thousands of Israelis mourned the deaths of two restaurateurs killed on Tuesday in the West Bank town of Tulkarm.

Motti Dayan, 27, and Etgar Zeituni, 34, had apparently gone to Tulkarm with an Israeli Arab friend to buy dishes for their sushi restaurant.

The Palestinian Authority says it has arrested four men in connection with the killings.

An anonymous caller to Reuters said the militant group Hamas had killed the two men, but an official Hamas spokesman denied responsibility.

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See also:

25 Jan 01 | Middle East
Barak gloom over Mid-East
18 Jan 01 | Middle East
Bloody end to Mid-East 'internet tryst'
22 Jan 01 | Middle East
Israeli child-killer escapes jail
28 Sep 00 | Middle East
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