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Palestinian Gunmen Kill Two Israeli Guards Near Security Barrier - 2003-11-22

Palestinian gunmen have shot dead two Israeli security guards patrolling the construction of a security barrier. The killing comes amid rising Palestinian anger against the project, which Israel says is meant to prevent terror attacks.

The two Israeli guards were shot and killed in east Jerusalem close to the route of the security barrier being built on the city's eastern rim with the West Bank.

The two guards were on patrol late Saturday in the Kidron Valley outside Jerusalem's walled Old City when their vehicle was ambushed.

The gunmen then stole the weapons belonging to the guards from their car.

Three other Israeli security guards stationed near the site opened fire but the attackers had fled to a nearby wadi, a dry river bed, and escaped under a cover of darkness.

Israeli troops are searching the area for the attackers.

The shootings ended a two month lull in Palestinian attacks inside Jerusalem.

The last attack was the September 9th suicide bombing at a café in the city that killed seven people.

Israeli officials say the ambush on Saturday only reinforces the need for a security barrier.

The attack took place on land where the barrier between Jerusalem and the West Bank village of Abu Dis is currently under construction.

While work on the project has been completed along Jerusalem's northern and southern frontiers, construction on the eastern border has been delayed because of political wrangling over the exact route of the barrier.

Palestinians say the project is an attempt by Israel to seize more land in the West Bank and unilaterally determine the borders of a future Palestinian state.

Israeli officials deny that the barrier in any way delineates a political border with the Palestinians.

Israel says the barrier is necessary to protect its citizens from attacks and can be dismantled later in the context of a permanent peace treaty.