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Israeli Operation Kills 3 in Gaza - 2002-07-12

A Palestinian policeman and a 13-year-old boy have been shot and killed during an Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip, and a Palestinian journalist has died of wounds received the day before in a separate incident in the West Bank.

Palestinians said the policeman was killed when Israeli troops entered the central Gaza city of Deir al-Balah early Friday and opened fire at a Palestinian police station.

They said the 13-year-old boy was killed as the troops withdrew from the town. The Israeli army said its forces entered Dier al-Balah but did not confirm any deaths.

The army also arrested dozens of men in a series of operations Friday in several West Bank cities. Palestinian witnesses are quoted by news agencies as saying more than 50 men were taken into custody in one raid in the city of Jenin.

Meanwhile, freelance photographer Imad Abu Zahra has died of a gunshot wound suffered the day before when he and a fellow Palestinian photographer were shot by an Israeli tank's machine-gun in the northern part of the West Bank.

An Israeli army spokesman said the two were shot during a confrontation with an angry crowd that had gathered when two armored vehicles were disabled after running into a utility pole. The spokesman said Israeli forces were first attacked by young Palestinians throwing stones, fruit and petrol bombs before armed militants arrived and opened fire.

Meanwhile, senior Palestinian official Marwan Barghouti and four Palestinian militia leaders are to face trial in Israel for allegedly masterminding terror attacks against the Jewish state.

Israel has said that he is behind several deadly attacks over the past 21 months of the Palestinian uprising. Mr. Barghouti insists that he is a political leader and is not involved in violence.