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 Monday, 13 January, 2003, 17:06 GMT
Two Palestinians shot dead in Gaza
Palestinians look at a destroyed metal workshop in Khan Younis refugee camp
There were scenes of utter devastation in Khan Younis
Israeli troops have killed two Palestinians as they ran towards a bus of Jewish settlers south of Gaza City, according to Israeli military sources.

Israeli radio described the Palestinians as children, but the military sources said they were young men in their twenties, armed with home-made grenades and a pistol.

The sources said the Palestinians were shot dead as they ran towards the bus from the Netzarim settlement immediately after it was attacked by grenades.

The bus was slightly damaged, but no injuries to the passengers have been reported.

The latest deaths came after a weekend of violence in which 10 people were killed, and just hours after Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz warned of a "growing wave of terrorism".

The main incidents have been:

  • Two Palestinian gunmen killed an Israeli in the village of Moshav Gadish, close to the West Bank, before being shot dead themselves by security forces
  • Helicopter gunships targeted Hamas extremists in the town of Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip - but Palestinians say the targets were missed and two teenage boys were killed
  • Hamas fired three rockets at the southern Israeli town of Sderot, injuring one person
  • A Palestinian was killed after Israeli troops entered the town of Beit Hanoun in the north of Gaza Strip
  • Overnight, dozens of Israeli tanks, backed by helicopter gunships moved into Khan Younis in an operation in which one Palestinian died

Accusations

Mr Mofaz warned Israel of more attacks, saying that the coming general election in Israel - on 28 January - were another motivation for attacks against Israel.

Destroyed house in Beit Hanoun
'Holy war' reads the flag above this woman's destroyed house in Beit Hanoun

Mr Mofaz also blamed groups linked to the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, despite a statement by the Palestinian cabinet calling for an end to all attacks on Israeli citizens.

"We should not give any credence to Yasser Arafat's calls to stop the attacks before the election," Mr Mofaz said.

"In fact he has blocked all progress aimed at ending the violence."

Israel has itself barred Palestinian officials from attending a conference in London on Tuesday aimed at reviving the Middle East peace process.

'Political ploy'

Earlier, senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat accused Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of using the army to turn attention away from his internal political problems.

"These operations were an attempt by the Israeli Government to escape corruption accusations and influence the Israeli electoral campaign by perpetrating more killings, destruction and state terrorism in the territories," Mr Erekat told the AFP news agency.

Meanwhile, at a Monday's rally in Gaza City, the founder of the militant group, Hamas, vowed that the campaign against Israel would continue.

More than 2,060 Palestinians have been killed since the Palestinian uprising began in September 2000.

The Israeli death toll is just above 720.


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