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Israeli Soldiers Kill 2 Palestinian Gunmen


Israeli soldiers shot and killed two Palestinian gunmen Thursday who were trying to ambush a convoy in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli military sources say the Palestinian gunmen set off a bomb on a road near the Jewish settlement of Ganei Tal.

The sources say the gunmen, who were armed with automatic weapons and grenades, opened fire on the convoy of vehicles and were shot dead by Israeli soldiers.

The militant Islamic group Hamas claimed responsibility for the ambush.

Shortly, after the attack mortar fire struck another Jewish settlement in Gaza, lightly injuring one Israeli.

Overnight in the West Bank, the Israeli military says it arrested a member of Hamas in a Palestinian-controlled area of Ramallah.

The army says another Palestinian was arrested near Tulkarm. The military alleged that both Palestinians were involved in terrorist activity.

Also Thursday, a Palestinian teenager wounded last week by Israeli fire died of his injuries. The teenager was shot while throwing stones at tanks in Ramallah.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said in an interview that Israel should have killed Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat 20 years ago in Lebanon.

Mr. Sharon told the daily Ma'ariv newspaper that he regretted that Israel did not "liquidate" Mr. Arafat.

Mr. Sharon was defense minister when Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982. At the time Mr. Arafat was based in Beirut.

In the interview, the Israeli prime minister says if the Palestinian leader takes all the steps being demanded of him to end violence he will once again be a partner for peace negotiations.

Mr. Sharon was referring to Mr. Arafat's pledge to enforce a cease-fire and crackdown on militant groups.

Israel has repeatedly criticized the Palestinian leader's efforts and the truce has gradually dissolved amid renewed violence.

Mr. Arafat has been confined to his Ramallah compound since December as part of an Israeli attempt to pressure him to end the Palestinian uprising, which erupted 16-months ago.

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