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Latest Mideast Violence Leaves 10 Israelis, Palestinians Dead - 2003-06-08

At least five Israelis and five Palestinians were killed Sunday, following two Palestinian attacks on Israeli targets. The death toll marked the worst day of violence since last week's Mid-east peace summit in Jordan.

One Israeli was killed late Sunday in a shooting attack close to a site that is sacred to both Jews and Muslims, in the divided West Bank city of Hebron.

The two Palestinian gunmen who launched the attack were later killed by Israeli forces.

The attack in Hebron came just hours after four Israeli soldiers were shot dead by Palestinian gunmen who opened fire on an Israeli army base near Erez, in the northern Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian attackers, who came dressed as Israeli soldiers, were later killed in a lengthy gun-battle with Israeli forces.

A senior Israeli army officer said the assailants came from the three different Palestinian militant groups that claimed responsibility for the attack.

They are Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades - the armed wing of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's Fatah Faction.

Despite the latest violence, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon claimed Sunday that a "victory over Palestinian terrorism is at hand."

Mr. Sharon was addressing a raucous meeting of the central committee of his ruling Likud Party in Jerusalem.

He called on his Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas, to move against the militant Palestinian groups behind the attacks against Israelis. Otherwise, Mr. Sharon warned, Israel would take matters into his own hands.

Hamas has condemned Mr. Abbas' speech at the end of last week's summit in Jordan with Mr. Sharon and President Bush. In the address, he called for an end to the armed Palestinian uprising and condemned Palestinian terrorism.

On Sunday, he said the only course was to pursue dialogue with the various Palestinian groups, in order to avoid being dragged into a civil war.