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Israeli Troops Kill 1, Arrest 3 Palestinians - 2004-02-29


Israeli security forces have shot and killed an armed Palestinian in the West Bank and arrested three Palestinian youths they said were on their way to carry out a suicide bombing. The youths reportedly said they planned the attack to protest Israel's building of a West Bank security barrier.

Palestinian witnesses say Israeli soldiers killed a member of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction during a gun battle. Several other armed Palestinians were wounded in the exchange of gunfire in the Balata refugee camp near Nablus in the West Bank.

In a separate case, three Palestinian youths are being held by Israel over an alleged plot to kill soldiers, their relatives said.

The boys, aged 13 and 14, had written a note to their relatives saying they planned to carry out shootings at an Israeli military checkpoint or army base.

One boy also threatened to launch a suicide bombing against Israel's West Bank security barrier.

The youths were reportedly arrested Thursday, but news of their detention was only disclosed Sunday.

Meanwhile, Israel's Supreme Court ordered the government to suspend work on a section of the West Bank security barrier for one week. The section is being built around eight Palestinian villages, and the court ruling follows a bloody protest last week by area residents against the barrier. Israeli troops fired live ammunition at the crowd, killing two people.

The Supreme Court says work on the section is to be suspended while the Israeli army re-examines the route of the barrier before another hearing next week.

In Gaza, thousands of people took part in the funerals for three Palestinians killed in an Israeli military helicopter strike Saturday.

One of the dead was identified as Mahmoud Judah, a field commander for the military wing of the Islamic Jihad, a group that has carried out numerous suicide bombings and other attacks against Israel.

Palestinian residents said that of the other two, one had also been a member of the organization's militia and the second a supporter.

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