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Israel Considers New Coalition Government

The party of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon votes Thursday, on forming a new coalition government to advance plans for an Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

Mr. Sharon asked members to approve the union with the rival Labor Party, saying it will help the government gain enough votes to approve the pullout.

Meanwhile, Israeli military officials say troops killed five Palestinians in separate incidents overnight near the Gaza Strip's border with Egypt.

Israeli soldiers opened fire on a group of people moving in a forbidden area near Rafah, killing three of them. Military officials say the troops suspected the men were arms smugglers or terrorists planning an attack.

Israeli forces also shot and killed one Palestinian and injured two others spotted in a separate area near the Gaza border. One of those injured later died at a hospital.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.