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Israeli Forces Kill Top Palestinian Militant - 2002-08-06

Israeli forces have killed the man widely regarded as the head of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in the West Bank, a leading Palestinian militant group.

Ali Ajouri and his assistant were killed in a hail of bullets when they tried to escape from Israeli forces. Their bodies were found in a village near the West Bank town of Jenin.

Mr. Ajouri is suspected of sending two suicide bombers to Tel Aviv last month who blew themselves up, killing two Israelis and three foreign workers.

He was seen by many as the top military leader of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in the West Bank. The group has been at the forefront of many attacks against Israel this year and is the armed wing of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction.

Israeli troops recently demolished the home of the Ajouri family in a refugee camp in Nablus and ordered the deportation of a brother and sister to the Gaza Strip.

The deportation order is being challenged in court.

In a related development, Israel's Supreme Court has turned down an appeal by 43 Palestinian families whose homes have been slated for demolition by the Israeli army.

The houses belong to the families of Palestinians involved in attacks against Israelis.