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Palestinian Attack Kills 4, Wounds 8 at West Bank Settlement - 2002-12-27


Two Palestinian gunmen opened fire in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank on Friday, killing at least four people and wounding eight others before he was shot to death by Israeli security forces.

Israeli television said ambulances rushed to the Otniel settlement southwest of Hebron Friday evening, shortly after the shooting began at the start of the Jewish Sabbath.

The incident ended a brief calm which had settled over the West Bank after a period of intense military activity by Israeli forces a day earlier.

Thursday saw at least nine Palestinians shot dead in incidents in the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank towns of Nablus, Tulkarem, Ramallah and Qabatiya.

It was the highest single-day death toll among Palestinians since early December, when 10 Palestinians were killed in an Israeli raid on a Gaza refugee camp.

Also on Thursday, Israeli forces re-occupied Bethlehem's city center, firing tear gas to force people inside for a curfew, Israel say was imposed for security reasons. Israel had briefly lifted the curfew, and re-deployed its troops to the outskirts of town to allow for Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem.

Israeli troops re-occupied all major population centers in the West Bank, except for Jericho, last June, following a series of attacks by Palestinian suicide bombers inside Israel.

The Israeli operations drew vows of revenge from Palestinian militant groups. The Palestinian leadership accused Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of escalating violence in a bid to win votes in next month's legislative elections.

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