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Israeli soldier, Palestinian gunman killed in Mideast battle
KEFAR DAROM, Gaza (CNN) -- A Palestinian gunman attacked an Israeli outpost in Gaza early Saturday, killing one soldier and injuring two others. The lone gunman, reported to be a Palestinian security officer, was also killed.
The dead soldier was identified as 21-year-old Staff Sgt. Baruch Plum from Tel Aviv. One of the wounded men was in critical condition.
The Israelis said they regarded the morning attack as a serious escalation in the violence because a Palestinian officer, identified as 30-year-old Baha Said from the al-Maghazi refugee camp, was involved.
Palestinian authorities said the incident was under investigation, and urged the Israelis to refrain from retaliating.
The attack came a day after Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat called on Palestinians to stop shooting from the territories known as Area A -- those in total control of the Palestinians.
Members of the Fatah Hawks, the militia of Arafat's Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for the attaack and said it did not contravene Arafat's orders since it was launched on an Israeli position.
Clashes were also reported in Ramallah and Hebron, where Palestinians said the Israeli army fired on them following the funeral of two of six Palestinians killed in clashes on Friday.
The Israelis, however, said that the Palestinians fired first.
Three Palestinians were wounded in the Hebron clash.
Since the latest cycle of violence began on September 28, at least 255 people have been killed, including 217 Palestinians, 25 Jews and 13 Israeli Arabs.
U.N. turns to fact-finding mission
Arafat's Israeli counterpart, Prime Minister Ehud Barak, responded to Arafat's ceasefire order on Friday that words were not sufficient to bring him back to negotiations aimed at ending the violence and restoring the badly damaged Mideast peace process.
But diplomatic discussion over how to end the hostilities was still continuing on other fronts.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan met on Friday with the Security Council to discuss setting up a fact-finding mission, which was outlined in the agreement reached at Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, last month.
The fact-finding mission is to be led by former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, who was closely involved in negotiating the Northern Ireland peace process.
Annan is scheduled to meet Mitchell on Sunday in New York.
Israel imposes economic sanctions
The secretary-general is also reported to be considering sending 30 to 40 officers to monitor the situation on the ground, but the majority of U.N. members are of the opinion there can be no peacekeeping effort of that sort until Israel agrees to back it.
The Palestinians have demanded an international protection force to act as a buffer between them and the Israelis, but Israel has rejected the idea, saying it would reward Palestinian violence.
Meanwhile, the Israeli government has imposed tough economic sanctions on the Palestinian Authority.
Israeli soldiers have been ordered not to allow any goods to enter Palestinian-controlled territories -- apart from food and medicines.
An Israeli government spokesman said Israel is "taking some economic steps to convey a message to the Palestinians and bring about an end to the violence."
Barak also has said that Israel is withholding millions of dollars in tax revenues owed to the Palestinians.
The Israeli clampdown is already is having an effect, with Palestinians on Friday blaming shortages of cooking gas and gasoline on the Israelis.
Arafat: 'Exerting every effort' to end violence
Palestinian Red Crescent Society
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