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Israeli Forces Kill Hamas Member After Attack on Jewish Settlement - 2002-10-18


Israeli forces Friday shot dead a member of the militant group Hamas as he tried to attack a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip. The attack came one day after Hamas vowed to retaliate against Israel for an attack on a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip.

Israel says the Palestinian militant fired on troops near the Dugit Jewish settlement in the northern Gaza Strip. Two Israeli soldiers were wounded before the militant was shot by Israeli troops.

Hamas confirmed the death and vowed more attacks as revenge for Israel's killing Thursday of eight Palestinians in the Rafah refugee camp in southern Gaza. Women and children were among the dead, and dozens of Palestinians were also wounded.

Israel says its forces were responding to rocket and gunfire on Israeli troops from Palestinian houses in the refugee camp. An Israeli army spokesman says that groups such as Hamas are to blame for the deaths of innocent people because they deliberately attack from inside civilian areas.

Meanwhile, dozens of Jewish settlers have reoccupied an outpost in the West Bank that Israeli soldiers forced them to evacuate earlier this week.

The move came just hours before Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon arrived home Friday from a trip to Washington, where he held talks with President Bush and other U.S. officials on the situation in the Middle East.

Israeli media say Mr. Bush presented Mr. Sharon with a blueprint for peace that outlines a series of steps on the way to establishing an independent Palestinian State. Under the U.S. plan, Israelis and Palestinians would aim to reach a final settlement of their conflict by 2006.

The U.S. effort to defuse tensions continued Friday with the start of a visit to the region by Assistant Secretary of State William Burns. His first stop was Egypt and he is scheduled to meet next week with Israeli and Palestinian officials.

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