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Israeli Forces Kill 3 in Gaza Raids - 2003-05-14

Security officials in the Palestinian territories say Israeli forces have killed three Palestinians and wounded more than 20 others during raids in the Gaza Strip. The raids followed a mortar bomb attack in Gaza the day before that wounded 10 Israeli soldiers.

Palestinian officials say that Israeli troops opened fire on a Palestinian police post, near the Jewish settlement of Netzarim in central Gaza.

Three Palestinian policemen were killed and two others wounded during an exchange of gunfire.

An Israeli army spokesman said the three had been throwing grenades at soldiers on patrol in the area.

Another army official said that the Palestinians were armed and had been moving under cover of darkness toward the Jewish settlement of Netzarim.

Hours before the incident, Israeli forces raided the Palestinian refugee camp in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.

Palestinian officials say the Israeli troops destroyed four houses before withdrawing. At least two Palestinians were reported wounded. The operation followed Palestinian mortar attacks against an army base in southern Gaza.

Shortly after the Israeli operations, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired two homemade Kassam rockets at the southern Israeli town of Sderot. There were no reports of injuries.

Meanwhile, talks between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his new Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, are expected this weekend. The meeting was arranged following the visit of Secretary of State Colin Powell, who urged both sides to support a new international Middle East peace plan.

The plan, known as the road map to peace, calls for the end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the establishment of a Palestinian state by 2005.