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At Least 4 Palestinian Militants Killed in Israeli Raids - 2003-09-25

Israeli security forces killed at least four suspected Palestinian militants Thursday in separate operations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. At least six soldiers were also reported wounded in the raids.

One of the Palestinians killed Thursday has been identified as a leader of the Islamic Jihad, Diab Shyoukhi.

He had been in charge of the organization's military wing in the area and had been on Israel's wanted list of Palestinian fugitives. He was shot to death by Israeli forces during a raid into the West Bank city of Hebron.

In response, another leader of the Islamic Jihad's armed wing, Nabil Abu Jaber, vowed to launch revenge attacks against Israelis.

Islamic Jihad and Hamas have carried out frequent suicide bombings and other terror attacks.

The operation in Hebron followed a separate raid in central Gaza, during which soldiers killed two Palestinian militants in the Boureij refugee camp.

Israeli soldiers, backed by helicopter gunships, surrounded the suspected hideout of an Islamic Jihad leader.

A Palestinian gunman opened fire on the troops, who returned fire.

Following the gun battle, the soldiers found two bodies inside the house. One was identified as a member of Islamic Jihad and the other Hamas.

An Israeli officer involved in the raid said the troops also found mortar bombs, rocket shells and other ammunition.

Israel has stepped up its operations against Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the past five weeks, killing two top military leaders from both organizations.

Israel says it will continue such raids as long as the Palestinian Authority refuses to dismantle these organizations.

The spiritual leader of Hamas, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, whose organization is dedicated to Israel's destruction, said on Wednesday his group would not disarm nor agree to a cease-fire