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4 Israelis Wounded in West Bank Ambush - 2002-10-08


Palestinian gunmen wounded four Israelis, one of them critically, in an ambush Tuesday near the West Bank town of Hebron. The attack came as Palestinian militants continued to threaten revenge attacks in response to an Israeli army raid in the Gaza Strip Monday that left 14 Palestinians dead.

Palestinian gunmen opened fire in broad daylight Tuesday on a vehicle with Israeli license plates.

The attack took place at a junction near the West Bank town of Hebron, where one Israeli soldier was killed and three others wounded two months ago in a similar ambush.

The shooting came one day after Palestinian militant groups vowed revenge over an Israeli raid on the town of Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip on Monday that killed 14 Palestinians and wounded 80 others.

The Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon praised the operation and said there would be more such raids in the Gaza Strip.

"I think that the operation in Gaza was a success," declared Mr. Sharon. "I think we have to take into consideration that Israeli forces are making every effort to contain raids and attacks by terrorist organizations."

Nabil Abu Rudeinah, a spokesman for Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, described Mr. Sharon's comments as a declaration of war against the Palestinian people.

The State Department Monday criticized the operation, saying it took place in crowded civilian areas and involved firing on a medical facility.

The European Union, Russia, Egypt and United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan also voiced strong opposition against the Israeli raid into a Palestinian self-rule area.

Meanwhile, more inter-Palestinian violence was reported Tuesday in Gaza City between Palestinian police and members of Hamas.

Supporters of the Islamic group clashed with police for the second day in a row.

Some Hamas members hurled grenades at Palestinian police headquarters before being dispersed.

Other Hamas supporters pelted Palestinian police with stones at the funeral of four Palestinian militants killed in gun-battles with police.

The fighting erupted after the killing of a Palestinian police commander on Monday by suspected Hamas activists.

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