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Israel Praises Army Killing of 3 Palestinian Militants

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seen during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, 27 Dec 2009

The incident occurred amid intensifying efforts for a prisoner exchange.

Israel is praising a deadly military operation in the West Bank that angered the Palestinian Authority. The incident occurred amid intensifying efforts for a prisoner exchange.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated the army for gunning down three Palestinian militants on Saturday in the West Bank town of Nablus. The raid came two days after the militants allegedly killed a Jewish settler in a roadside ambush.

Mr. Netanyahu told the Cabinet one of the gunmen had been freed from an Israeli prison under an amnesty deal, highlighting the risks of an emerging prisoner swap with the Islamic militant group Hamas that rules the Gaza Strip. Israel has agreed in principal to release 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for a captive soldier held for more than three years in Gaza.

Responding to criticism of the lopsided deal, Mr. Netanyahu said there would be no compromise in the war on terror.

He said Israel's policy on terrorism is clear, it would respond aggressively to any attack.

But the Palestinian Authority is furious over the Israel raid, which took place in territory under its control. Palestinian spokesman Nabil Abu Rdeineh called it an assassination.

"This is a damaging act from the Israeli government, and it is going to lead to more instability, more violence," he said.

Mr. Netanyahu said he will fly on Tuesday to Egypt, which has been mediating between Israel and Hamas on the prisoner swap. The Prime Minister will meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.