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Mideast Violence Calling US Peace Efforts Into Question

Israel has bombed Palestinian military compounds in Gaza and the West Bank in retaliation for two Palestinian attacks that killed at least 10 Israelis and wounded more than 30 others. Earlier Wednesday evening Palestinian militants attacked an Israeli bus in the northern area of West Bank and a Jewish settlement in Gaza.

The retaliation came as expected shortly after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon met with his security team to discuss how to respond to the twin Palestinian terrorist attacks.

Israeli F-16 fighter jets hit a Palestinian security compound in Gaza. Fighter jets also fired missiles at facilities used by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's elite Force 17 on the West Bank near the town of Nablus.

Planes also were heard circling over the West Bank town of Ramallah.

The retaliatory strikes came within hours of Palestinian attacks in the West Bank and Gaza earlier Wednesday evening.

In the first attack, Palestinian gunmen opened fire and launched grenades at a crowded bus on its way to the Jewish settlement of Immanuel in the northern West Bank. The Islamic military group Hamas has claimed responsibility.

At almost the same time, two suicide bombers jumped onto a car leaving a Jewish settlement in Gaza and set off explosives.

Earlier Wednesday morning, Israeli helicopter gunships had fired missiles at a Palestinian security compound in northern Gaza in response to mortar attacks on a Jewish settlement there.

Israel says it holds Yasser Arafat responsible for not curbing the violence. The Palestinians reject the charge and accuse Israel of provoking the violence through its closures and military actions inside the Palestinian territories.

The never-ending violence has threatened to sabotage U.S. efforts to broker a 48-hour cease-fire, despite Washington's insistence the violence would not derail the truce talks.