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Israeli Raids Leave 11 Palestinians Dead Including Girl, Age 4 - 2003-03-17

Eleven Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Nine, including a four-year-old girl, died during two Israeli raids into Gaza. Two others died in a mysterious explosion in the West Bank.

Witnesses said gunfire erupted as Israeli tanks, bulldozers, and armored personnel carriers poured into the Gaza's Nusseirat refugee camp.

Several explosions were heard, as roadside bombs, intended for the Israeli tanks, exploded.

Israeli forces then surrounded the home of wanted Islamic Jihad activist Mohammed Saafen. The organization carries out suicide bombings and other terror attacks against Israel. He was killed in a gun-battle with soldiers, after refusing to give himself up. Soldiers then blew up his house.

A four-year-old girl, two teenagers, and two Palestinian gunmen were also said to be among those killed during the operation.

Israeli troops also carried out house-to-house searches in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya.

Following the raids, Palestinian militants fired at least five home-made Kassam rockets from Gaza at Sderot and other towns in the nearby Western Negev region of Israel. One of the rockets hit a parked bus in Sderot, but there no reports of injuries.

In the West Bank town of Tulkarem, two Palestinians were killed and three wounded, following an explosion in a warehouse.

The Israeli Army described the blast as a "work accident", a term used to describe the accidental detonation of explosives being prepared by Palestinian militants.