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Palestinians Fail in Attempt to Storm Israeli Base - 2002-02-17

Israeli police have killed two Palestinians during a failed attempt to storm a military base in the north of the country. As many as five Israeli police and bystanders were wounded during the raid, two of them seriously.

When Israeli traffic police stopped two Palestinians travelling towards a military base east of Hadera, one of the Palestinians began shooting at the police. They returned fire and killed the assailant.

The second man drove off in the car, with the police in hot pursuit, and blew himself up near the army base.

Israeli security forces rushed to the area and began searching for other possible attackers.

Police had been on high alert prior to the incident, amid warnings of more terrorist strikes.

The latest attack comes one day after a Palestinian suicide bomber set off a large explosion in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, killing himself and two Israeli teenagers.

In retaliation, Israeli warplanes bombed Palestinian Authority targets in the West Bank city of Nablus.

Danny Ayalon, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, has blamed Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for orchestrating the upsurge in violence. "Arafat's campaign of terror continues and indeed intensifies," said Mr. Ayalon. "He is completely responsible for the detonation. And it seems like he is bent on deterioration, escalation, and confrontation. Israel will know how to defend itself."

During an extended Israeli cabinet meeting, Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said that Palestinian militant groups seem to be competing among themselves to see who can launch the most daring attack against the Jewish State.