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Sunday, 13 October, 2002, 20:26 GMT 21:26 UK
Palestinian dies in phone box blast
Members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade
The dead man is accused of being a militant
An alleged member of a Palestinian militant group has been killed in an explosion near Bethlehem, in the West Bank.

The man, named as Mohammed Abayat, aged 25, died as he was making a call from a telephone booth in Beit Jala.

He is said to have been a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, an armed group affiliated with Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement.

Four-year-old Tawfiq Bereka was crushed under falling masonry as the Israeli army dynamited houses in Gaza
Four-year-old Tawfiq Bereka was crushed under falling masonry
Earlier three Palestinian civilians - one a four-year-old boy - died in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank as the Israeli army carried out operations.

Israeli troops entered Rafah in southern Gaza overnight and used tanks and bulldozers to demolish houses which, they said, concealed tunnels used for smuggling weapons under the Israeli-controlled border with Egypt.

A Fatah spokesman has accused Israel of killing Abayat, although as yet there has been no comment from the Israeli authorities.

The BBC's correspondent in Jerusalem, James Reynolds, says that the dead man was a member of the important Abayat clan, a family that wields great influence in the area around Bethlehem.

Some members of the family were involved in the siege at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and a number of family members have been targeted by Israeli forces in recent months.

Child crushed

In the raid on Rafah, the four-year-old boy was crushed under falling masonry when Israeli soldiers destroyed a neighbouring home with dynamite, Palestinian hospital sources said.

Palestinian officials say that 55 houses were damaged in the blast, and a large wasteland was created in a residential area of the town.

Picture issued by the Israeli army of the entrance to a tunnel in Rafah home
Israel insists they are destroying terrorist havens
Also in Rafah, a 26-year-old man died after being shot in the stomach.

At least 25 other people were injured, and eight suspected Palestinian militants were arrested.

The army says its troops were attacked with gunfire and grenades.

And in Jenin in the West Bank, Sunday saw hospital officials report that a woman was killed and two girls injured when an Israeli tank opened fire on a taxi.

'Bags of weapons'

Earlier in a separate incident Israeli forces say they shot dead two gunmen near Yevul inside Israel, near the border with the Gaza Strip.

A Palestinian militant group associated with Fatah, the Ahmad Abu al-Rish brigade, says they were members of its organisation.

Army radio reported that bags of weapons were found near the gunmen's bodies.

Brigadier Yisrael Ziv, Israel's army commander in the Gaza Strip, said this was the first time to his knowledge that attackers had tried to get into Israel from Egypt.

"We will have to organise ourselves as a consequence. I hope the Egyptians will also take all necessary measures to prevent further infiltrations," Brigadier Ziv said.

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The BBC's James Reynolds
"Sources say Mohammed Abayat was a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade"

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24 Sep 02 | Middle East
15 Sep 02 | Middle East
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