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2 Palestinians Reported Killed in Latest Mideast Violence - 2003-05-21

Palestinian doctors say a 65-year-old woman and a 17-year-old boy were shot to death by Israeli troops, during clashes Wednesday near the West Bank city of Ramallah. At least five others were reported wounded.

Palestinian officials say the troops began shooting after youths clashed with soldiers in a village north of Ramallah.

A spokesman for the Israeli army confirmed that soldiers had opened fire in the area after at least one Palestinian threw a firebomb at them.

The fighting in the West Bank came hours after Israeli forces re-entered the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip.

The operation is part of efforts to prevent more Palestinian rocket launches from the area into nearby Israel.

The raid forced Palestinian Prime Minister, Mahmoud Abbas, to cancel his planned trip to Beit Hanoun.

He was to have visited the area with his minister for security, Mohammad Dahlan, to survey damage from Israel's operation which began last Thursday.

On Tuesday, the soldiers withdrew to the edges of the town, but went back in less than 24 hours later.

At least five Palestinians have been reported killed in Beit Hanoun since the operation began. Houses have also been demolished and extensive damage to water and sewage systems are reported.

Hundreds of the residents have held demonstrations calling on Hamas to stop using the area to fire rockets and spare them from retaliatory actions by the Israeli army.

On Wednesday in the Gaza Strip Israeli forces also claim to have found two 150 kilogram bombs embedded in the sand near the Jewish settlement of Dugit.

The Israeli army suspects that the bombs were planted with the intent of blowing up tanks.