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Saturday, 27 July, 2002, 01:15 GMT 02:15 UK
Four Jewish settlers killed
Shooting victim
Three victims were from the same family
Four Jewish settlers have been shot dead by Palestinian militants near the West Bank city of Hebron.


This attack is proof that the Palestinian Authority is hooked on terror

David Baker, Prime Minister Sharon's office
The settlers were killed in separate attacks on two cars travelling south of the city.

The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a group linked to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, said it carried out the attack.

Hours later, Arab countries urged the United Nations to pass a resolution condemning an Israeli attack on Gaza City earlier this week, which killed a senior militant and 14 Palestinian civilians - nine of them children.

The radical Islamic group, Hamas, announced on Friday it had chosen a successor to Salah Shehada, the leader of its armed wing who died in the Israeli air strike - but did not name the new leader.

Ambushed

The latest shootings took place shortly before the Jewish Sabbath started at sunset - this, and Israeli curfews imposed on many Palestinian West Bank areas, meant the road was almost deserted.

Three members of the same settler family were killed in one car - a father, mother and child - and another man was killed in the second.

Gunmen ambushed the vehicles from the dunes beside a junction and then fled towards the nearby Palestinian town of Yatta.

The army is searching for the gunmen.

"Palestinian terror has zeroed on its preferred target - innocent Israeli civilians," said David Baker, an official at Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office.

"This attack is proof that the Palestinian Authority is hooked on terror. Palestinian terrorists are obsessed with any prospect of attacking Israelis on our streets, in our markets, or on our roads," he said.

UN move

At the United Nations on Friday, the Security Council discussed a draft resolution brought by Syria condemning Israel's military tactics against the Palestinians.

Anti-Israel demonstration in Gaza
Anger remains high over Israel's Gaza strike

It demands the "withdrawal of the Israeli occupying forces from Palestinian cities" and an end to "acts of terror".

Israel took control of seven major Palestinian cities last month in an offensive against Palestinian militants.

The resolution would also state that the Security Council is "gravely concerned at the extra judiciary execution" in Gaza City.

In that raid, an Israeli F-16 jet dropped a guided bomb on the apartment block where Salah Shehada was staying - an action widely condemned by Arab and western leaders.

A BBC correspondent at the UN says the United States - Israel's principal ally - has described the text as one-sided and made it clear it will not support the draft resolution.

The debate was adjourned and will resume on Monday.

As anger over the Gaza air strike continued, thousands of Arab staged anti-Israel rallies in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon on Friday, urging Arab governments to take action in support of the Palestinians.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Orla Guerin reports from Jerusalem
"The dead, all Jewish settlers, among them three members of the same family"
The BBC's Barbara Plett
"Those who travel here risk their lives"
Dan Ashbel, Israeli Foreign Ministry Official
"This is part of a chain of terror attacks"

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26 Jul 02 | Middle East
25 Jul 02 | Middle East
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