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Palestinian Gunmen Kill 4 Women in Hadera - 2001-10-28

Palestinian gunmen have killed four people and wounded 15 others in the central Israeli town of Hadera. The rampage ended with the two Palestinians being killed by Israeli police.

The gunmen drove through a main a street in the coastal town of Hadera, firing at pedestrians. One eyewitness said one of the gunmen also stepped from the car and continued shooting. The two gunmen directed their fire at a group of Israelis waiting at a bus stop. Israeli police, describing the incident as a "terrorist attack," shot and killed the assailants.

The Islamic Jihad, an organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel, has claimed responsibility for the killings.

Hadera, north of Tel Aviv, lies just a few kilometers from the West Bank and has been a frequent target of Palestinian militants. The latest attack took place only meters from where a car bomb exploded in May, injuring four Israelis and killing two Palestinians in the vehicle.

The drive-by shooting in Hadera was the second such incident of the day. Earlier, Palestinian gunmen in a car shot and killed an Israeli soldier at a bus stop near the border with the West Bank before making their getaway. A militia group affiliated with Palestinian-leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction claimed responsibility for this killing.

The latest attacks could further endanger Israeli plans to withdraw its troops from the Palestinian-ruled towns of Bethlehem and Beit Jala in the West Bank. The troop pullback was scheduled to start Saturday, but was suspended after Palestinian gunmen opened fire on Israeli troops.

The withdrawal is meant to be a test case for a wider pullout from a total of six Palestinian towns that Israel encircled following the assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi earlier this month.