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Israel Prepares for Escalation of Palestinian Conflict


Two Israeli women critically injured in a Palestinian shooting attack Tuesday in central Jerusalem have died of their wounds. Meanwhile, Israeli security officials are warning Palestinian militants are preparing to escalate their conflict against the Jewish State.

The two Israeli women were the first fatalities of an attack by a Palestinian gunman who went on the rampage Tuesday in the heart of Jerusalem. He was later killed by police.

He has been identified as a member of the Al-Aqsa Brigades, a militia linked to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction.

Fatah has joined a coalition of all Palestinian groups, including the militant Islamic group Hamas, which is calling for a "general mobilization" against Israel.

The coalition issued a statement in Gaza City, urging all Palestinians to confront what it called Israel's invasion and military blockade of their towns.

Israeli security officials say they are preparing for "an all-out escalation" by Palestinian militants.

The security officials told Israel Army radio that the country's armed forces are on heightened alert for the possibility of new attacks.

Israeli police also report a powerful bomb was discovered late Tuesday in a banquet hall in Jerusalem, where a bar mitzvah, a Jewish's boy's coming-of-age celebration, was under way. The celebrants were evacuated and the bomb was safely neutralized.

Last week, six Israelis were killed by a Palestinian gunman who burst into a Jewish's girl's coming-of-age ceremony at a banquet hall in the northern Israeli city, Hadera.

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