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Israeli Troops Kill Palestinian Teenager - 2001-11-23

Israeli troops have shot and killed a Palestinian teenager in clashes that erupted after a funeral for five children who died in an explosion in the Gaza Strip. A booby-trapped bomb placed by the Israeli army may have killed the children.

Israeli media reports and Palestinian officials say the children may have been killed by an explosive device planted by the army to use against Palestinian gunmen firing mortars at a Jewish settlement and military posts in Gaza.

Initial reports about the blast in the Khan Yunis refugee camp said the children found an unexploded tank shell on their way to school and set it off accidentally.

However, allegations emerged Friday that the explosion was caused by a booby-trapped bomb put in place by the Israeli military.

Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said the incident is being investigated, and expressed regret for what he called "the tragic loss of innocent life."

Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian teenager during clashes that erupted following an emotional funeral for the boys. Thousands of people marched in the funeral procession. Gunmen fired rifles into the air, and children carried pictures of their dead classmates.

Near the West Bank town of Nablus, two Palestinians were killed Friday in an explosion. The men were both members of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction.

The Associated Press news agency, quoting Palestinian security officials, said the men died when a bomb they were handling exploded prematurely.

The Reuters news agency, however, quoted a Palestinian official as saying the men may have stumbled upon an unexploded Israeli tank shell.

The events occurred as U.S. envoys are set to come to the region in a new diplomatic push, designed to end nearly 14 months of fighting.

State Department envoy William Burns and retired Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni will work with both sides to establish a viable cease-fire and implement recommendations of an international commission headed by former U.S. Senator George Mitchell.

The Mitchell committee proposed a truce, a cooling-off period and confidence building measures leading to new peace negotiations.

Israel and the Palestinians both agreed to implement the recommendations, but attempts to broker a cease-fire have failed to halt the violence.

In a major policy address earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell outlined the Bush administration's ideas for ending the conflict and bringing peace to the Middle East.