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Israeli Forces Stop Suicide Bombing Attack in West Bank - 2002-11-10

Two Palestinians were killed when their car exploded in the West Bank, reportedly on route to carry out a terrorist attack inside Israel.

Israeli security forces said they foiled a suicide bombing attack when they stopped a car near the West Bank town of Tulkarem.

Two Palestinians in the car were reportedly transporting an explosive belt and a large bomb. When they were ordered to halt, the car exploded, instantly killing the occupants.

Earlier, Israeli troops pulled back from Jenin, also in the West Bank.

Israeli forces had entered the center of Jenin early Saturday, and during a fierce gunfight killed a senior member of the Islamic Jihad suspected of masterminding two bombings that killed 31 Israelis.

The pullback to the outskirts of Jenin ended a two week military incursion into the Palestinian self-rule area, which Israel has labeled the "capital of the suicide bombers."

Following the withdrawal, residents of Jenin reopened shops and children returned to school. Bulldozers were also brought in to remove the rubble of at least six buildings demolished during the Israeli army's operation.

But in Nablus, also in the northern West Bank, Palestinians remain under military curfew. Israeli forces arrested two residents of Nablus, one of them a Palestinian teenager suspected of planning a suicide bombing.

Another suspected Palestinian suicide bomber was arrested in Hebron in the West Bank.

Meanwhile, Israel and the Palestinians said they are preparing responses to a U.S. backed peace initiative that calls for a fully independent Palestinian state to be established by 2005.

Israeli officials said their submission would be ready before parliamentary elections scheduled for January. The Palestinians have said they will present their response to U.S. envoy David Satterfield, who is due in the region shortly to discuss the proposals with both sides.