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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 November, 2004, 13:35 GMT
Israelis kill three Palestinians
Israeli soldiers in the West Bank
Israeli troops frequently raid Palestinian areas
Israeli soldiers have killed three Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinian witnesses say.

Israeli radio said troops in Hebron killed two men in a gun battle which broke out after they surrounded a militant hideout and dynamited it.

Hospital officials in Rafah said one Palestinian was killed during an attack by Israeli forces.

The man is said to have died when a shell fired by an Israeli tank exploded near him.

The army did not comment but confirmed troops had carried out an operation in the area to uncover tunnels used to smuggle weapons across the border between Gaza and Egypt.

Correspondents identified the two dead in Hebron as members of the Hamas militant organisation.

Witnesses said one of them was a local Hamas chief called Murad Qawasmeh.

The two-storey house they were hiding in belonged to Nizar Shehadeh, witnesses said, who was jailed by Israel six months ago for having links to a local charity that supported Hamas.

The West Bank and Gaza Strip have been occupied by Israel since 1967.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is planning to remove Israeli settlements and the soldiers that protect them from Gaza by the end of 2005.

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