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Palestinian Suicide Bomber Injures Israeli Soldier - 2003-11-03

A Palestinian suicide bomber has lightly wounded an Israeli soldier near the West Bank town of Qalqilya. Meanwhile, Palestinian militants say they are prepared to discuss the possibility of a halt to suicide bombings inside Israel.

The bomber was identified as a 17-year-old from the West Bank town of Nablus. He set off the explosive device he was wearing after Israeli troops had tracked him to a hiding place in the village of Azun near Qalqilya.

Israeli security forces have been on high alert following intelligence reports of an increased threat of terror attacks. Israeli troops also were also looking for wanted militants in Tulkarem, following the shooting of an Israeli soldier late Sunday just south of the West Bank city. The soldier suffered only minor injuries in that incident.

The Palestinian militant group Hamas said it is willing to discuss the possibility of a halt to attacks on Israeli civilians inside Israel, although it would continue attacks on Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers. The militant group does not consider the estimated 250,000 settlers living on Palestinian land in the West Bank and Gaza as non-combatants.

Spokesman Abdel Aziz-Rantizi told journalists that Hamas would consider discussing the idea with the Palestinian Authority. But he said that no such partial truce would take place unless Israel accepts the offer.

Israel maintains that the only path to peace is through dismantling of militant groups like Hamas, which it considers to be part of, what it calls, the terrorist infrastructure.