At least six Palestinians have died as the Israeli military launched new raids into Palestinian-ruled areas of the West Bank.

Israeli tanks and troops moved into the Palestinian villages of Beit Reema and Deir Ghassaneh near the West Bank town of Ramallah.

Troops took over several buildings and arrested a number of local residents. Palestinians say at least one policeman was killed.

The Israeli army says it launched the incursion into the villages to stamp out what it called a "broad infrastructure of terrorism."

In Tulkarem three men were killed in what Palestinians say was an ambush by Israeli special forces.

The Israeli military says the soldiers spotted armed Palestinians who were about to open fire and shot them.

In the village of Abu Dis, adjacent to Jerusalem, Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian man during clashes there.

In Ramallah Palestinian doctors say a policeman died of wounds sustained in fighting earlier this week.

Israel began raids into the West Bank following the killing of Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi last week by Palestinian militants.

Israel has rejected demands from the United States to withdraw immediately from the Palestinian territories.

Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer says Israel has no intention of permanently re-occupying Palestinian-ruled areas and eventually both sides will have to return to peace negotiations. "Me, as a military man, do not believe that through military means we can reach anything," he said. "We use the military to guarantee our security. But finally we have to sit around the table and negotiate."

In further acts of violence gunmen wounded at least six Palestinian laborers near the West Bank town of Hebron.

The Palestinians were on their way to work when gunmen in a car overtook their vehicle, spraying it with automatic weapons fire.

Police say they are investigating whether Israeli vigilantes are responsible for the shooting.