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Monday, 25 February, 2002, 21:28 GMT
Fresh attacks target Israeli civilians
Man injured at Neve Yaakov
Two Israelis were killed when gunmen opened fire
Two Israeli civilians have been shot dead, and about 10 injured as violence continued in Israel and the West Bank.

Palestinian gunmen killed two Israeli men travelling in a car near an Israeli settlement south of Bethlehem, and a Palestinian opened fire at a bus stop in East Jerusalem, injuring about 10 people.

Man injured at Neve Yaakov
Several were wounded while waiting at a bus stop
Earlier in the day, a Palestinian man who was taking his pregnant wife to hospital, was shot dead at an Israeli army checkpoint in the West Bank.

The latest violence came as Israel relaxed its blockade of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat - but said he would continue to be confined to the West Bank town of Ramallah.

Palestinians denounced the move as inadequate, and the European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said Israel should lift all restrictions on Mr Arafat.

"The sooner he gets freedom of movement the better," said Mr Solana, after meeting the Palestinian leader.

Army base

The Jerusalem shooting took place in Neve Yaakov, in a disputed area north of the city, which includes territory captured during the 1967 war.

Police shot dead one gunmen, and initially said that a second had escaped and was being pursued. But a police statement issued later said there had only been one attacker.

Man injured at Neve Yaakov
Solana: Called for Arafat's freedom of movement
Three civilians and three policemen were seriously injured in the incident, which took place next to the Israeli army central command headquarters.

The radical Palestinian group, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which is linked to Mr Arafat's Fatah faction, said it had carried out the attack.

Israeli Foreign Ministry official Gideon Meir said: "Every terror attack just pushes away any peace initiative."

As well as the two Israelis shot dead at Nokdim, two other passengers in the car were injured, including a pregnant woman who was shot in the stomach.

She was rushed to a Jerusalem hospital, where a baby girl was delivered by caesarean section.

"In situations like this, you don't wait around," said Dr Yuval Weiss.

Palestinian death

Earlier in the day, a pregnant Palestinian woman was wounded and her husband shot dead by Israeli troops at a checkpoint on the West Bank at Balata, near Nablus.

Man injured at Neve Yaakov
The Israeli woman shot at Nokdim had her baby delivered by Caesarean section
Maysoun Hayek said her husband, Mohammed, decided to drive her and his 64-year-old father to the Rafidia hospital in Nablus after she went into labour in their village of Zeita, 20 kilometres (12 miles) away.

Mrs Hayek said that, as they approached the checkpoint, she heard a single shot.

Mr Hayek was killed and his father critically injured.

The Israeli army said "preliminary" information showed the car had tried to force its way through a roadblock, before troops opened fire.

Another pregnant Palestinian woman was shot and wounded at the same checkpoint on Sunday.

The two Palestinian women also gave birth to healthy babies.

Also on Monday, troops shot dead a Palestinian woman after she tried to stab soldiers at a roadblock near Tulkarm, the Israeli army said.

Israeli troops have been on high alert since six soldiers were ambushed and killed by Palestinian militants at a checkpoint in the West Bank last Tuesday.

The BBC's Orla Guerin
"This was another black day"
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Gideon Meir
"It should not happen but it happened"
Adam Shapiro, International Checkpoint Watch
"You could see the footprints on their heads"
See also:

25 Feb 02 | Middle East
Israeli president seeks Saudi talks
22 Feb 02 | Middle East
Israel withdraws forces from Gaza
22 Feb 02 | Middle East
Israeli press blasts Sharon
21 Feb 02 | Middle East
Sharon speech: More of the same
20 Feb 02 | Middle East
Dissent in the ranks
25 Feb 02 | Middle East
Arafat survives Israeli incarceration
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