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Israeli Forces Kill 6 Palestinians - 2002-08-31

Israeli troops today killed five Palestinians in a helicopter attack, and arrested a top member of the Islamic group Hamas. Israeli forces also shot dead a Palestinian gunman, who opened fire inside a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, seriously wounding two people.

Two Israeli helicopter gunships destroyed a car and killed three of its passengers, during an operation in the West Bank Saturday. A second missile attack reportedly overshot the target and killed two children.

One of those killed in the vehicle was Rafat Daraghmeh, a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a military wing of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction.

The attack occurred in the village of Tubas, close to the Palestinian self-rule town of Jenin, in the West Bank.

Palestinian Cabinet Minister Nabil Shaath accused Israel of what he called a "filthy, appalling crime," and a repetition of what he called the Israeli government's "assassination policy."

In the past, Israel has defended such attacks, saying they are aimed at killing those suspected of plotting to kill Israelis.

In a separate incident, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, Israeli troops captured Hassan Yousef, the political leader of Hamas in the West Bank.

The arrests and attacks appear to be part of Israel's military campaign to prevent more Palestinian terror attacks, including suicide bombings.

While there had been a lull in such attacks for nearly a month, late Saturday, a Palestinian gunman infiltrated a Jewish settlement near the West Bank city of Nablus, and opened fire. The gunman was killed by Israeli forces.

Meanwhile, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades executed a Palestinian accused of collaborating with Israeli security forces. It was the third such execution in a week.

Israeli troops seized control over most cities in the West Bank in June, imposing tough restrictions on the Palestinian residents.

On Saturday, more than a million Palestinian children braved curfews, roadblocks and Israeli military blockades in order to attend classes at the start of a new school year. Most of the children succeeded in attending school, but several thousand were not able to.