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Explosion Kills Palestinian in Gaza - 2003-07-05


An explosion near a security checkpoint separating Israel and the Gaza Strip killed one Palestinian and wounded at least one other Saturday. The Israeli army also reported that Hezbollah guerrillas in southern Lebanon fired several volleys of anti-aircraft missiles into northern Israel, but caused no casualties.

It's still unclear what caused the explosion in the Gaza Strip. Palestinians say the blast may have been caused by an explosive device left behind when Israeli troops withdrew from the area recently. Israel says it is checking into the matter.

Israeli officials also say an explosive device went off overnight near an army patrol in the same area in Gaza.

Israeli forces have left parts of Gaza and the West Bank town of Bethlehem as part of an agreement to turn over security responsibilities to the Palestinian Authority.

The explosion was one of a series of incidents reported overnight in the Palestinian territories, including two mortar shells and some anti-tank rockets fired near a Jewish settlement in Gaza. Reports also say Palestinian security officials and gunmen clashed in the Gaza Strip when police tried to arrest a militant.

Major Palestinian militant groups agreed a week ago to stop attacking Israelis for the next three months. But they are demanding that Israeli meets certain conditions, including releasing Palestinians prisoners.

The Israeli security service, Shin Bet, is reported to be preparing a list of Palestinian prisoners who could be released in the near future. That list is expected to be presented at Sunday's weekly Cabinet meeting.

Some Palestinian militants have demanded the release of thousands of prisoners. Otherwise, they say, the truce could collapse.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas met with Islamic Jihad on Friday, one day after meeting with the Hamas militant group in an effort to shore up the still fragile week-long cease-fire. Mr. Abbas is expected to meet again with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in the coming week.

The Israeli military said that Hezbollah guerillas in Lebanon fired a total of 26 missiles into northern Israel Saturday, damaging some homes and a parked car, but causing no injuries. Missile fragments landed in the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona.

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