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Mideast Violence Flares as Quartet Meets - 2004-07-06

One Israeli soldier and four Palestinians were killed in an Israeli military operation in a Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank town, Nablus, Tuesday. The latest violence comes as representatives of the so-called Quartet for Middle East Peace meet in Israel.

The target of the Israeli operation was Yamon Faraj, local commander of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. He and his deputy, Amjed Hanani, were killed in a gun battle and air strike in the Ein Beit-Illma refugee camp.

Israel Radio says the violence erupted when Israeli troops surrounded the building where the two PFLP men were staying. An Israeli officer and Amjed Hanani died in an exchange of gunfire. Yamon Faraj fled to a nearby building, which was then struck by a missile fired by an Israeli helicopter gun ship. The militant and two civilians, Khaled Saleh an American academic and his 16-year-old son Mohammed, were killed in the strike.

Israel's Army Radio says the militants were wanted by Israeli authorities for involvement in suicide attacks against Israeli civilians.

Israeli troops also continued operations in the Gaza Strip Tuesday, looking for tunnels used to smuggle arms into the Palestinian territory from Egypt. Elsewhere in Gaza, Israel Radio reported a 14-year-old Palestinian was killed by Israeli troops in the Khan Younis refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, late Monday, shortly after an Israeli man was wounded in a rocket attack at a nearby Jewish settlement.

Meanwhile, representatives of the United Nations, United States, the European Union and Russia are in Israel for talks on the role Egypt might play following the Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip. The meeting of the so-called Quartet follows discussions in Cairo, June 24, during which the group backed a proposal by Egypt that it play a role in ensuring security after the withdrawal.

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia said late Monday he hopes the meeting will be the start of greater involvement by the Quartet in the peace process.