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Friday, 13 July, 2001, 14:29 GMT 15:29 UK
Hamas vows revenge for 'assassination'
Israeli soldiers on an armoured vehicle as they block the main road to the West Bank town of Hebron
Hebron's heaviest fighting since the truce began
The militant Islamic group Hamas has accused Israel of assassinating one of its activists in a car bombing in the West Banktown of Tulkarm.

Fawwaz Badran, 27, died as his car exploded outside his music store in the town centre on Friday.

Hamas has said revenge will now follow.

This will not pass without any reaction from the military wing of Hamas. This will not stop our resistance...Revenge is coming soon

Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Abu Shanab

His death came after fierce clashes in the West Bank city of Hebron over the past two days which have left one Israeli dead and 23 Palestinians wounded.

Israeli tanks began shelling a Palestinian-controlled area after a Jewish settler was killed.

It was the heaviest outbreak of fighting in Hebron since a US-sponsored truce took effect a month ago.

Israeli troops briefly entered the Palestinian-controlled part of Hebron and destroyed three police posts, Palestinian security officials said.

Two police and 21 other Palestinians were wounded, they said. Hebron was blacked out by an electric power cut.

"The city is shaking," a witness told Reuters news agency.

An Israeli army spokesman said a Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli troops in a separate incident in the Gaza Strip on Friday.

The spokesman said he was preparing to throw a grenade.

A settler in Hebron near the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba
A Jewish settler walks by burning debris in Hebron

Following the death of the Hamas activist, the senior Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Abu Shanab, told Reuters: "This is an assassination. This is a new crime... This incites us to more resistance, to more revenge because Israeli military arrogance does not stop except by power.

"This will not pass without any reaction from the military wing of Hamas. This will not stop our resistance... Revenge is coming soon".

Hamas has been behind attacks in recent years that have killed scores of Israelis.

Suicide bombers

Earlier this week, it promised to launch a stream of suicide bombers against Israel to avenge the Israeli army killing of an 11-year-old Palestinian boy.

Witnesses said Palestinian gunmen and Israeli soldiers traded gunfire at the edge of the city soon after the Tulkarm explosion.

They said Israeli troops fired two tank shells near a Palestinian outpost. There were no reports of casualties.

Deliberate targeting

Palestinian officials have accused Israel of assassinating at least 40 activists since the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation flared in the West Bank and Gaza Strip last September when peace talks stalled.

Israel has denied having such policy but said it deliberately targets those it knows are involved in "terrorist" attacks against its citizens.

The United States and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan have urged Israel to end a policy which they say violates international law and threatens peace efforts.

Earlier this month, the Israeli cabinet reaffirmed its strategy of "active defence" against militants who planned or attempted to carry out attacks against Israelis.

Twenty-two Palestinians and 11 Israelis have died since the sides agreed to a US-brokered ceasefire on June 13. At least 480 Palestinians, 125 Israelis and 13 Israeli Arabs have been killed since September.

The BBC's Barbara Plett
"It seems the truce has all but collapsed"
See also:

09 Jul 01 | Middle East
Suicide bomber dies in Gaza blast
08 Jul 01 | Middle East
Palestinian boy shot dead in Gaza
06 Jul 01 | Middle East
Sharon talks up Europe visit
04 Jul 01 | Middle East
Israel army given freer rein
02 Jul 01 | Middle East
Mid-East truce 'close to collapse'
27 Jun 01 | Middle East
Arabs want US to push Israel
10 Jul 01 | Middle East
US condemns 'provocative' Israel
11 Jul 01 | Middle East
Sharon's dilemma
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