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Wednesday, 29 May, 2002, 13:52 GMT 14:52 UK
Israel weighs response to attacks
Car at Ofra shooting
The Ofra shooting left one Israeli dead
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his security cabinet met for several hours on Wednesday to discuss their response to the latest wave of Palestinian attacks, but reportedly did not agree any new plans.

Israeli sources say ministers have not shifted from the current policy of regular pinpoint raids into towns in the West Bank to search for Palestinian militants, despite the recent surge in violence.

The cabinet meeting followed a number of suicide bombings in recent days, and Tuesday's shootings of Jewish settlers.

Arafat has not condemned the shootings
Three settlers - students at an Orthodox seminary - were killed and another wounded by a Palestinian gunman at the Itamar settlement, near Nablus in the West Bank.

In an earlier incident, an Israeli motorist was shot and killed, also in the West Bank. Another man travelling with him was wounded.

Residents of the nearby Jewish settlement of Ofra said Palestinian gunmen had opened fire on their car.

The AFP news agency said it had received a statement from the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades - an offshoot of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement - saying it had carried out both attacks.

BBC Middle East correspondent Jeremy Cooke says the shootings - which have been rare since the huge Israeli military offensive in the West Bank last month - appear to be a significant change of tactics by Palestinian militants.

Mr Arafat has condemned recent suicide bombings, but not the attacks on settlements, which the Palestinians regard as the most potent symbol of Israeli occupation.

Bullet wounds

Benzi Lieberman, an official at the scene of the Itamar shooting in which the three students were killed, said the gunman was shot dead by Jewish settlers.

Medics at the scene had tried but failed to revive two of the injured.

"When we got there we found two of them lying behind the building with bullet wounds all over their bodies," said Hezi Katoa, a rescue service worker.

"All our efforts to revive them failed, and the doctor pronounced them dead," he said.

An ambulance worker told Israeli radio that the gunman "fired at whoever he saw".

Rabbi Avi Ronsky, head of the Orthodox seminary attended by the three victims, said that students came to study there from all over Israel, before beginning their military service.

'Israeli operations continue'

Israeli troops have continued incursions into West Bank towns in recent days, entering Jenin for several hours on Tuesday morning.

Israeli policeman searching after Petah Tikva blast
Two Israelis died in the Petah Tikva explosion
Palestinian sources told the Associated Press news agency that Israeli troops had entered the Ramallah suburb of Beitunia on Tuesday night. The Israeli military refused to comment on the reports.

And a curfew was imposed in Bethlehem for the third night running.

The Israeli operations follow a suicide bombing at a shopping centre in the Tel Aviv suburb of Petah Tikva which killed an Israeli grandmother and her granddaughter.

Key stories




See also:

28 May 02 | Middle East
27 May 02 | Middle East
28 May 02 | Middle East
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