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2 Israelis Killed in West Bank Ambush - 2004-02-28

Two Israelis have been shot and killed when their car was ambushed on a highway south of the West Bank town of Hebron.

Israeli authorities identified the two as a man and woman whose car came under fire as it drove along the road between the West Bank town of Hebron and the Israeli city of Beersheva. Police said that from the shell casings from an automatic rifle and other evidence found at the scene of the Friday night shooting, they believe at least two gunmen were responsible. They said tracks at the scene led to nearby Palestinian villages.

Earlier, in Jerusalem, Israeli security forces clashed with Palestinian demonstrators outside the al-Aqsa mosque. Police used rubber bullets and stun grenades to break up the protestors who, they said, were throwing stones at Jews praying at the Western Wall, which is directly below the al-Aqsa complex. Four demonstrators and three policemen were slightly hurt.

The complex in the old city of Jerusalem contains sites that are holy to both Muslims and Jews, and it has been the frequent focus of conflict.

The clash at the shrine coincided with more protests in the West Bank against the barrier Israel is building in the West Bank. The International Court of Justice in the Hague is currently considering a case brought by Palestinians charging the barrier is illegal and is nothing more than a land grab by Israel. Israel calls it a defense against Palestinian suicide bombings.

In the Gaza Strip, meanwhile, a Palestinian suicide bomber on a bicycle blew himself up when a bomb he was carrying exploded prematurely as he approached the Jewish settlement of Kfar Darom. No one else was hurt.

Israeli troops also destroyed dozens of small Palestinian kiosks at the Erez crossing between Israel and Gaza. The Israelis said they concealed a tunnel that Palestinian gunmen used Thursday to ambush and kill an Israeli soldier.