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Palestinian Attack Leaves 5 Israelis Dead, including 3 Children - 2002-06-21

A Palestinian gunman killed at least five Israelis and wounded eight others during an attack on a Jewish settlement in the West Bank.

The Israelis were killed when at least one Palestinian gunman infiltrated the Jewish settlement of Itamar, near the city of Nablus in the West Bank.

The Palestinian militant entered a house in the settlement and then fought a fierce gun battle with Israeli security forces.

An Israeli army spokesman says a mother and three of her children were shot dead, along with a security guard, before border police killed the gunman.

Israelis living in the settlement say they were hiding in their homes during the firefight.

The radical Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) claimed responsibility for the attack.

Late last month, a Palestinian gunman entered the same settlement and killed three teenage students studying at a Jewish seminary there before being shot dead.

The violence occurred as Israel began calling up reserve soldiers as it widens its military operations in Palestinian-ruled areas of the West Bank.

The military moves are in response to two suicide bombings this week in Jerusalem that killed at least 26 Israelis.

Israeli government spokesman Dore Gold made it clear: the military will continue to operate in Palestinian areas as long as the suicide attacks continue.

"Until there is a change of behavior on the other side, until they can take responsibility for areas under their jurisdiction, we have no choice but to move into certain areas that will improve our ability to prevent infiltrations into Israel," he said.

Meanwhile, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has renewed his call for an end to attacks on Israeli civilians. He warned that if the attacks do not stop, the result might be a "full Israeli occupation" of the Palestinian territories.

"It is our permanent message, especially to our people and to the whole world that we are against any of these terrorist activities against civilians, Palestinian civilians or Israeli civilians," he declared.

Members of the militant Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups rejected Mr. Arafat's request, saying they will continue to launch attacks against Israelis.