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Violence Erupts in West Bank, Gaza Strip: 4 Killed


Israeli soldiers shot and killed at least three Palestinians, including an eight-year old boy Tuesday, as fresh violence spread across the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Late Tuesday, Palestinian gunmen also killed an Israeli in Bethlehem.

Clashes erupted after Israeli forces raided the West Bank town of Qalqilyah.

The soldiers surrounded two houses, searching for militants, when Palestinians threw firebombs at them. A boy was killed and at least nine other people injured when soldiers fired back.

The raid followed a series of warnings of planned terror attacks, which prompted the Israeli Army to impose a full closure on the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Hours after the closure went into effect, Israeli special forces began carrying out arrests in the casbah area of the West Bank city of Nablus.

Soldiers shot dead one member of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction trying to flee capture, Israel Radio reported.

Israeli troops also opened fire in the Gaza Strip killing a Palestinian gunman as he neared the security fence that divides the territory from the Jewish State.

Late Tuesday, Palestinians opened fire on an Israeli army vehicle near the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, known by tradition as the birthplace of Jesus. Israeli military officials said at least one Israeli was killed in the attack.

Meanwhile, high-level talks scheduled for Tuesday between Israeli and Palestinian officials aimed at reaching a cease-fire were postponed. A spokesman for the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, said he expected the meeting to now take place in the next few days.

The discussions are to focus on a possible phased withdrawal of Israeli troops from areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

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