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Hamas Member's Home Rocked by Explosion in Gaza - 2002-10-31

The Gaza Strip home of a member of the Palestinian militant group Hamas has been rocked by a series of explosions. At least three people were killed and three others wounded.

Witnesses said the two-story home belonged to Hamas member Salah Nassar. He is the brother of Wael Nassar, a senior official in the military wing of the militant Islamic group. Salah Nasser was said to be among the wounded.

Hamas is one of the groups behind a series of suicide bombings that have killed scores of Israelis since the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation began more than two years ago. Hamas is a State Department-designated terrorist organization.

Elsewhere, Israeli radio reported that two Palestinians were killed in a gun battle in the West Bank town of Tulkarem. The fighting broke out when Israeli troops entered a school in search of suspected militants.

And an Israeli army officer killed a Palestinian gunman in another exchange of gunfire near the Jewish settlement of Beit El also in the West Bank.

The Israeli army demolished four homes in the Jenin refugee camp. The dwellings belonged to families of suspected Palestinian militants. The military has destroyed dozens of Palestinian homes in the past few months.

Human rights groups have criticized the Israeli policy, calling it collective punishment for the actions of a few extremists. Israel says the policy prevents attacks by Palestinian militants against Israelis. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon named his hardline former chief of staff, Shaul Mofaz, as the new defense minister. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said the Mofaz appointment would not help the peace process.

Mr. Sharon is trying to build a new coalition government following a pullout by the Labor Party. The Israeli prime minister says he intends to put together a government that will serve its full term through the end of October 2003.