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Jewish settler killed, army says

Dead baby
A Palestinian baby, a four-month-old girl, is youngest victim of the ongoing violence  

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- A Jewish settler has been killed by Palestinians after a shooting on the West Bank, the Israeli army says.

The man was shot and stabbed while guarding empty caravans near the Jewish settlement of Itamar.

Speaking in Jerusalem on Tuesday Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said he had a "burning desire" for peace but would not compromise national security.

The shooting followed a firefight between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on Monday night.

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CNN's Jerrold Kessel has more on the preliminary Mitchell report (May 6)

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Richard Boucher, U.S. State Department: Israeli incursions undermines the efforts to end violence

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Israeli PM Ariel Sharon: I'm commited to peace

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Discarded rifle cartridges were found on the ground near the body, police told Israeli radio.

The clashes occurred as U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher criticised Israel for its incursions into Palestinian areas.

Sharon said: “For me peace is not an election gimmick. It is something that should last for generations.

“Peace should provide security to Israeli citizens in the one and only small country where we have the right and the capability to defend ourselves.”

He said security is what the Palestinians have agreed to and what their leader Yasser Arafat is responsible for.

But Sharon added: "We will not pay protection money. We do not have to pay in order to create a situation where we will not be killed."

On Monday, three Palestinians including a four-month-old baby girl. The Palestinian baby, Iman Hijo, was killed when a piece of shrapnel hit her in the back.

CNN's Mike Hanna said she was the youngest victim yet in more than seven months of ongoing violence.

Five of her relatives, including her 19-year-old mother, were wounded when a shell burst through the asbestos roof of their house in the refugee camp of Khan Younis.

The Palestine Red Crescent says 20 other Palestinians were injured in the Israeli shelling of the camp.

The Israel Defense Force says the tanks opened fire after a series of mortar attacks on Jewish enclaves in Southern Gaza

Sharon on Monday issued an expression of sorrow for the death of the baby.

He said: "I am sure that our forces never had that intention to do it. I am very sorry for that, and I am sure to make every effort to try and avoid tragic cases like this.

Weapons
Captured weapons are carried off a fishing boat in Haifa  

"I think that it is one of the things that everyone understands. Children and babies should not be involved in this terrible war that we would like one day to finish."

In a later speech to Israel's Knesset, Sharon repeated his accusation the Palestinian Authority is actively engaged in attacks on Israelis and is illegally importing arms.

He said: "Despite the agreements they signed, the main objective of the Palestinian authority is to smuggle in more lethal weapons."

Within hours of Sharon's statement the Israeli Defense Force displayed a variety of weapons it says were aboard a vessel intercepted off the coast of Gaza on Sunday.

The IDF says the weapons including Katyusha rockets and mortars were to be used by Palestinians in attacks on Israelis.

The Palestinian Authority has in the past denied smuggling weapons. It has also maintained it has no control over those carrying out attacks against Israeli targets.

At a news conference Monday, Major General Yedidya Ya'ari, Israel's chief of naval forces, said an air force plane saw a ship on Sunday that looked suspicious. Israeli ships intercepted the 40-ton San Torini and found it loaded with arms.

Ya'ari said Lebanese smugglers departed with the boatload of weapons from northern Lebanon. Their plan was to put the arms into barrels and put them into the sea, where they were to be picked up by Palestinians, he said.

The IDF said the cache included Katyusha rockets, anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles as well as land mines, mortars and rifles.



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RELATED SITES:
Israel Defense Forces
Palestinian National Authority
Palestinian Red Crescent
US State Department-Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs

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