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Israeli Troops Move In to Occupy Hebron


Two Palestinians were killed in separate incidents Saturday, several hours after Palestinian militants killed 12 Israelis in an ambush in the West Bank city of Hebron. Dozens of suspected militants were also rounded up in Hebron, as Israeli troops moved back to occupy the city.

A woman was killed when Israeli tank fire hit her home in Nablus. Earlier, a teenage member of the militant Islamic Jihad was shot dead in Jenin. He was the son of the Islamic Jihad leader in the city.

The group claimed responsibility for an ambush in Hebron late Friday, in which nine Israeli security personnel and three civilians were killed. Fifteen Israelis were wounded in the rifle and hand grenade attack.

Israeli soldiers say they killed three of the attackers.

Israeli troops moved into Hebron in force on Saturday, rounding up dozens of Palestinians they believe may have had something to do with the shooting.

Islamic Jihad says the ambush was a response to Israel's killing of one of its military leaders a week ago. The Israeli government did not say how it would respond.

However, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government has made it its policy to hit back hard following attacks - moving into Palestinian cities, tracking down suspects and besieging the compound of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Friday's attack occurred as a group of Jewish settlers, escorted by Israeli soldiers, left religious services at the Tomb of the Patriarchs. The site is sacred to both Muslims and Jews.

The fighting is one of the most serious incidents in the city since the start of the Palestinian uprising more than two years ago.

Some 450 Jewish settlers live in Hebron, surrounded by some 130,000 Palestinians. The city was divided under a peace deal in 1997.

Last month, Israeli troops pulled out of Hebron, after having reoccupied it and most of the other major Palestinian cities after a crackdown aimed at ending attacks. They have now moved back, and are not expected to withdraw any time soon.

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