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Palestinian Gunmen Wound 4 Israelis in Shooting Attack - 2003-08-04

An Israeli woman and her three children have been shot and wounded by Palestinian gunmen near the Israeli West Bank settlement, Har Gilo. Gunmen opened fire on the woman's car, as she drove along a road on the outskirts of Jerusalem. A local branch of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claims responsibility for the shooting, which left the woman in serious-but-stable condition. Her nine-year-old daughter was hospitalized with what Israel radio called moderate wounds. Two other children are said to have received minor injuries.

Israeli police say the gunmen were from Batir, near Bethlehem. It was the first attack on Israelis since Bethlehem was returned to Palestinian control, last month.

Al Aqsa is an offshoot of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's mainstream Fatah movement. Just over a month ago, they joined with the militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad in declaring a three-month suspension of attacks on Israelis. Still, some of local al Aqsa organizations say they do not recognize the ceasefire.

Before the attack, al-Aqsa officials said they would continue to honor the temporary ceasefire. They made the pledge after the Palestinian Authority abandoned plans to remove 17 Palestinians wanted by Israel for involvement in terrorism from Mr. Arafat's West Bank headquarters.

The detainees were arrested inside Yasser Arafat's compound in Ramallah when they refused to be relocated to the West Bank town, Jericho.

Earlier Sunday, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom rejected a ceasefire proposal from his Palestinian counterpart, Nabil Shaath. Mr. Shalom instead called on Palestinians to first completely dismantle terrorist organizations. Palestinians fear such a move could trigger a civil war.

Israel radio also reports Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian they said was planting a bomb in a village, near Tulkarem. Gunmen also fired on an Israeli patrol near Jenin. There were no injuries reported in the incident.