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Violence Erupts in the West Bank


Palestinian gunmen have killed an Israeli woman during an ambush in the West Bank, testing a fragile cease-fire.

Police say Palestinian gunmen fired at a car near the West Bank city of Bethlehem, killing an Israeli woman and seriously wounding her husband.

The couple's three young children were riding in the back seat of the family car and witnessed the attack. The children were not hurt. The family lives in a Jewish settlement near Bethlehem.

A Palestinian policeman was killed late Wednesday near a checkpoint outside the West Bank city of Hebron.

Palestinians say Israeli soldiers shot and killed the man. The Israeli army says he died during an exchange of gunfire.

In other incidents, two Jewish settlers were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near the West Bank town of Qalqilya.

The Israeli army reported that mortars were fired and grenades were hurled at military positions in the Gaza Strip.

The violence came after Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat announced he was enforcing a cease-fire.

Israel responded by withdrawing tanks and troops from Palestinian-controlled territory and promising to halt military strikes.

After Thursday's shooting, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said the Palestinian Authority "did not live up to its commitment."

U.S. officials have been urging both sides to work for calm in the region as Washington forms an anti-terror coalition after last week's attacks on the United States.

Continued fighting in the Israel-Palestinian conflict could make it more difficult to recruit Arab and Islamic states into such a coalition.

Dore Gold is a senior foreign policy advisor to the Israeli prime minister. "Well, there is no question that Israel has made a priority of trying to address America's concerns with the needs of coalition building and for that reason it has taken risks for peace," he said. "But at the same time, when its civilians come under repeated attacks, Israel can not sit on its hands, it can not simply not respond. It will have to take measures to defend its citizens but at the same time exercise the same kind of restraint and good judgement to avoid any escalatory actions."

An advisor to Mr. Arafat, Nabil Abu Rudaneh, says the Palestinians are doing their best to enforce the cease-fire. He says it is important to hold high-level truce talks as quickly as possible.

Previous cease-fire announcements have failed to halt nearly a year of violence. More than 800 people, mostly Palestinians, have died in the uprising against Israeli occupation.

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