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Israeli Troops Shoot Palestinian Teen in Nablus Clash - 2003-12-27

Israeli troops searching a militant Palestinian stronghold in the West Bank have shot and killed a Palestinian teenager and wounded three others in clashes with stone-throwers.

Israeli soldiers raided the Balata Palestinian refugee camp near the West Bank city of Nablus Saturday in search of wanted militants.

Palestinian witnesses say a Palestinian teenager who confronted the troops was shot in the chest and died of his wounds.

An Israeli army spokesman says there were very violent protests in the area and that demonstrators not only hurled rocks but also gasoline bombs at the troops.

The spokesman says soldiers used only what he called non-lethal means to disperse the crowd and that the military is investigating the shooting.

Israeli forces stepped up their searches of the Nablus area after a Palestinian suicide bomber from an outlying village killed four Israelis at a bus stop near Tel Aviv on Thursday.

Israeli government spokesman Avi Pazner says the Nablus sweep was made in response to intelligence reports that Palestinians from the area are planning more terror attacks.

He says Israel will not allow Nablus to continue operating, in his words, as a springboard of Palestinian terrorism against the Jewish state.

Israeli forces, backed by tanks and armored vehicles, have been operating in the area for more than 10 days, and have imposed a full curfew on the city.

Meanwhile, several thousand demonstrators gathered in the West Bank town of Qalqilyah Saturday to protest against Israel's building of a security barrier to divide the territory from the Jewish state.

The barrier, which Israel says is necessary to block suicide bombers, includes a concrete wall encircling much of Qalqilyah, making it difficult for the Palestinian residents to enter or exit the town.