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Israeli Troops Kill 2 Palestinian 'Infiltrators' - 2002-08-23


Israeli troops have shot and killed two Palestinian men trying to infiltrate a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip. The incident occurred just hours after a senior Palestinian security official tried unsuccessfully to convince militant organizations to adhere to a cease-fire.

The Israeli military says the Palestinians were dressed as Israeli soldiers and armed with assault rifles and grenades as they tried to infiltrate the Kfar Darom settlement in the Gaza Strip.

Security sources say one of the gunmen was killed at the settlement, the other in an exchange of gunfire nearby.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, linked to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, has claimed responsibility for the attempted attack.

In the West Bank overnight, Israeli security forces demolished the family home of a Hamas militant, suspected of a bomb attack against an Israeli banquet hall last March.

Late Thursday, Palestinian Interior Minister Abdelrazak al-Yahya met with representatives of militant groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, in Gaza City to try to convince them to stop attacks against Israel. Both groups apparently rejected the idea.

Israeli troops did pull out from the West Bank town of Bethlehem and surrounding villages on Monday, allowing Palestinian police to take over security there. It was the first step of an agreed upon phased withdrawal plan.

Possible Israeli withdrawal from parts of the Gaza Strip were to be next. Israeli media have also been reporting the military might pull out of the West Bank city of Hebron soon. Security officials from both sides are expected to meet again to discuss the phased withdrawal issue.

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