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Thursday, 20 September, 2001, 12:42 GMT 13:42 UK
Killing mars Mid-East ceasefire
Israeli soldier examines car
There has been sporadic violence despite the ceasefire
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel says he is convening his security cabinet on Thursday after Palestinian gunmen shot dead an Israeli woman near the West Bank town of Bethlehem earlier in the day.

Mr Sharon accused the Palestinian Authority of failing to "stand by its commitments" to honour a ceasefire, after hearing of the killing.

(This) blood attack proves that international pressures brought to bear on Yasser Arafat were not sufficient

Israeli Government spokesman
This is the first Israeli fatality in two days of sporadic violence since both sides agreed to take steps on Tuesday to stop nearly a year of clashes.

The BBC's James Reynolds in Jerusalem says there is intense international pressure - led by the United States - on both the Israelis and the Palestinians to observe the ceasefire.

Our correspondent says the Bush administration wants to contain the conflict which will make it much easier to persuade moderate Arab states to sign up to its coalition against terror.

The latest violence throws into doubt hopes of a meeting between Israel's Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, to shore up the truce.

Group claims responsibility

Israeli police say 26-year-old Samrit Amrani was shot dead when gunmen fired on her car near the Jewish settlement of Tekoa.

Israeli tank
Israeli forces have withdrawn from some Palestinian territory

Her husband, Shai, 32, was seriously injured in the attack.

A militant Palestinian group affiliated to Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction, Al-Aqsa Brigades, said it carried out the attack.

Speaking to reporters, Mr Sharon said: "I am very sorry the Palestinian Authority did not stand by its commitments and we will decide today how to act."

Mr Sharon has called for 48 hours of total quiet before he will allow Mr Peres to meet the Palestinian leader.

"Attacks prevented"

The Palestinians say they are making serious efforts to ensure the ceasefire remains intact.

Palestinian police are said to be patrolling trouble spots, including the Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, and the divided town of Hebron on the West Bank, to prevent any outbreaks of violence.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Egypt
Arafat says Palestinians should exercise "maximum restraint"
Speaking on Israeli military radio before the attack, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said Mr Arafat had "prevented attacks in the past few hours and we have appreciated his intervention in this prevention".

But despite the ceasefire, violence has continued.

Two Jewish settlers were wounded, one of them seriously, in a bomb blast on Wednesday night near the Jewish settlement of Oranit on the border between Israel and the West Bank.

The Tanzim militia, affiliated with Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction, said they were responsible.

Earlier, Palestinian sources said a Palestinian man was killed, and five others were injured in an exchange of fire with Israeli forces in the divided West Bank city of Hebron.

The BBC's Barbara Plett
reports from Jerusalem
The BBC's James Reynolds in Jerusalem
"There has been an overall increase in violence"
See also:

16 Sep 01 | Middle East
Sharon calls off truce talks
16 Sep 01 | Middle East
Israel plans buffer zone
12 Sep 01 | Middle East
Arafat fears new Israeli attacks
10 Sep 01 | Middle East
Israel's shock at Israeli bomber
18 Sep 01 | Middle East
Analysis: Mid-East chance of peace
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