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Tuesday, 23 April, 2002, 14:48 GMT 15:48 UK
Revenge killings follow Hebron strike
Burnt car of assassinated militant Marwan Zuloum
The missiles struck as Zuloum drove along Salam Street
Two Palestinian militants have been killed in a missile strike on their car by an Israeli helicopter in the West Bank city of Hebron.

One of the dead was Marwan Zuloum, the local head of the al-Aqsa Martyrs brigade, a group that has claimed responsibility for a number of suicide attacks against Israelis.

Hours later, three bound Palestinians, apparently suspected informers for Israel, were found dead at the same spot where the car was hit.

Bethlehem scene
Palestinians are faced with a massive clean-up
Palestinian gunmen shot the suspected collaborators in the head, raising concerns of lawlessness in Palestinian controlled areas as Israeli forces withdraw from the West Bank.

The Israeli helicopter attack on Hebron on Monday night was the first of its kind since the Israeli army began pulling out of most major West Bank cities and towns last week.

The West Bank offensive started on 29 March after a spate of Palestinian suicide attacks killed and wounded scores of Israelis.

The part of Hebron which is not already under Israeli occupation was spared any incursions which caused massive destruction in civilian areas.

There have also been new moves to resolve the stalemate in Ramallah, where Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat remains holed up in his besieged compound.

European Union diplomats will be allowed to visit Mr Arafat in Ramallah this week, according to Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Pique.

Israel prevented Mr Pique and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana from meeting Mr Arafat during a trip to the region in March.

Israeli pull-out

Israel has demanded that Mr Arafat hand over suspects in the assassination of an Israeli cabinet minister last October and the man accused of organising an arms shipment to the Palestinians in January.

Israeli FM Shimon Peres
Peres: "We Jewish people cannot forget the past of Europe"

The Palestinians say they will not begin truce talks until Israeli forces have left all Palestinian-run areas in the West Bank.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Sunday announced the end of the first wave of Operation Defensive Shield.

Palestinians say hundreds of bodies remain trapped under houses that were hit by rockets and bulldozed by Israeli army vehicles in Jenin in the northern West Bank

Israel has said it will co-operate with a UN fact-finding mission to determine what happened there, insisting that it killed dozens of gunman but few civilians.

The BBC's Jennifer Glasse
"The helicopter rocket attack killed two Palestinians"
See also:

23 Apr 02 | Middle East
EU renews Mid-East peace efforts
22 Apr 02 | Middle East
UN names Jenin inquiry team
21 Apr 02 | Middle East
Palestinians flee Bethlehem church
20 Apr 02 | Middle East
Tragedy at Jenin, says US envoy
19 Apr 02 | Middle East
Rescue teams join Jenin search
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