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Israeli Troops Raid West Bank Village


Israeli troops Tuesday raided a Palestinian-controlled village in the West Bank to arrest militants. At least four Palestinians were wounded in an exchange of gunfire with Israeli soldiers.

Israeli troops, backed by tanks, launched an incursion before dawn into the Palestinian village of Irtas, near the West Bank town of Bethlehem.

The Israeli military says soldiers arrested a senior member of the militant Islamic Jihad group and two other Palestinian militants suspected of involvement in terrorist activities.

The troops and Palestinians exchanged gunfire during the raid before soldiers withdrew from the village.

Since the Palestinian uprising against occupation erupted 16 months ago, Israeli troops have frequently entered Palestinian-ruled territory to track down militants allegedly involved in attacks.

After the incursion, Palestinian gunmen from the nearby town of Beit Jalla opened fire on the Jewish community of Gilo. No injuries were reported.

Gilo is built on disputed land captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.

The incidents came as Israeli government officials began considering a plan to prevent infiltration by Palestinian militants from the West Bank into Jerusalem.

The plan was submitted two days after a Palestinian woman blew herself up in downtown Jerusalem killing one Israeli. Last week, a Palestinian gunman opened fire on the same street killing two people.

Israeli news reports say the plan will include roadblocks, special traffic routes and hundreds more police in the already heavily guarded city.

Israel's Public Security Minister Uzi Landau says barriers and a security fence would also be built in some areas. "You have to develop a buffer zone that will isolate the population of the Palestinian Authority from easily getting into our population centers. I would like to see them around Jerusalem and along this buffer zone between us and them," Mr. Landau said.

Reports say the plan to protect Jerusalem includes installation of sophisticated detection equipment, including thermal sensors, video cameras and night-vision equipment.

Security officials say the plan is expensive and it is not clear whether the Israeli government will approve it.

There have been numerous suicide and car bombings as well as shooting attacks inside Jerusalem since the current conflict began in September 2000.

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