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Israel To Retaliate For Jerusalem Shooting - 2002-01-22

Israel has vowed to retaliate after a Palestinian gunman opened fire in downtown Jerusalem Tuesday, wounding at least 20 people, before he himself was shot dead by police. The attack came just hours after the militant Islamic group, Hamas, declared war on the Jewish state, after Israeli troops killed four of their members in the West Bank town of Nablus.

A Palestinian gunman opened fire on Jaffa Road, Jerusalem's main thoroughfare, during the afternoon rush hour Tuesday as workers were heading home.

He directed his fire at a bus stop near the junction of King George Street, one of the city's busiest intersections, sending pedestrians ducking for cover.

The attack occurred close to a restaurant, where a Hamas bomber blew himself up in August 2001, killing 15 people.

The shooting followed the killing earlier Tuesday of four members of Hamas at their hideout in the Palestinian-ruled town of Nablus by Israeli soldiers.

Hamas says it will respond with what it called an all-out war against Israel. Palestinian Cabinet Minister Saeb Erekat says that Israel is escalating the violence through its military raids.

"I condemn this state terror in Nablus this morning, occupying parts of Nablus and then dynamiting a building, killing four people in that building, killing four people in that building," he said.

But Danny Ayalon, an advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, has said their action in Nablus was justified.

"In Nablus, we took out a Hamas factory, a bomb factory and once the Palestinians do not do what they have to do by fighting terror, by countering it and preventing it, then we have to do it," he said.

More Israeli military actions are expected to follow this latest Palestinian attack.

Dore Gold, another advisor to Mr. Sharon, warns that Israel will retaliate for the Jerusalem shooting and take steps to eliminate what he describes as the "terrorist threat" to "innocent civilians."