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Palestinians shot in Gaza

Israeli border guards
Israeli border forces man a checkpoint in East Jerusalem  

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Palestinian officials said one Palestinian was killed and seven others injured after the Israeli army fired on Palestinian territory.

The officials said Abdo Abu Bakra, 29, died from a gunshot wound to the head after Palestinian gunmen opened fire following an Israeli incursion late Friday into Khan Younis refugee camp in southern Gaza.

The Israeli army confirmed it initiated activity in Palestinian-controlled territory in Khan Younis. Army officials said there had been several instances of shooting coming from this territory aimed at an Israeli settlement.

The army said on Saturday that its forces entered the area, a regular firing line between the two sides, and "identified a squad of armed terrorists on their way to carry out an attack."

In-Depth: Mideast struggle for peace  

"The army force opened fire at the people and saw that several of them had been hit," an army statement said.

Palestinian officials told Reuters that 10 people were injured, three seriously, after fighting broke out when an Israeli bulldozer, protected by a tank, came from the nearby Jewish settlement of Gani Tal and destroyed a house.

The Israeli army denied Palestinian claims that it entered the territory -- which is under full Palestinian control -- with tanks and declined to comment on the vehicles involved.

The incident came after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made a military tour of Gaza Friday to visit Israeli soldiers in the strife-torn region.

Sharon toured Gush Katif, a collection of Jewish settlements in southern Gaza, his office told the Associated Press. The settlements have come under regular fire from Palestinian gunmen and from militants firing mortars.

The latest violence on Friday came after opinion poll evidence that many Israelis are losing faith in their leaders' ability to end almost 11 months of bloodshed and revive peace talks.

A Gallup poll for the Maariv newspaper on Friday showed that 70 percent of Israelis did not believe Prime Minister Ariel Sharon would succeed in halting Palestinian violence. This figure was up 29 points from the previous poll.

Ariel Sharon
Sharon: Military tour of Gaza  

Earlier Friday, Palestinian witnesses and hospital officials told Reuters that Israeli troops shot and wounded 14 youths in stone-throwing clashes in Gaza. Witnesses reported stone-throwing at Israeli troops near Ramallah and Bethlehem.

The Israeli army told Reuters that sporadic Palestinian violence had been directed at its forces, including grenades thrown at a post near Gaza's border with Egypt and gunfire towards its troops at Migdal Oz in the West Bank.

Israel, on high alert for terror attacks, also told Reuters it had prevented a suicide attack at a nightspot in the northern city of Haifa Friday after arresting two Islamic Jihad activists armed with 10 kg (22 pounds) of explosives near the West Bank town of Jenin.

At the United Nations, the Palestinians made another attempt to secure international action after Israel responded to suicide bombings last week by seizing Palestinian offices in and around Jerusalem.

The 15-nation Security Council scheduled an open meeting for Monday for U.N. members to express their views as requested by the 57-member Organisation of the Islamic Conference.

Palestinians hope the debate will bring a U.N. resolution.

In a statement issued after its weekly meeting in the West Bank town of Ramallah, the Palestinian cabinet called the recent Israeli actions an "escalation" and repeated demands for international observers to be sent to the region.

Palestinian cabinet minister Saeb Erekat met U.S. envoy David Satterfield in the West Bank town of Jericho later Friday as diplomatic moves continued to try to instigate peace moves based on an American-backed truce-to-talks formula.

An Egyptian spokesman quoted by Reuters said after talks with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell that it had put ideas about Middle East peace to the U.S..

The spokesman said Cairo might be able to announce more details in two days and had received assurances the U.S. would be active in Middle East peacemaking.

Reuters also reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin told Sharon in a telephone call Friday that the sides needed to resume peace talks to prevent more bloodshed.

The Kremlin press service quoted by Reuters said Sharon told Putin that Israeli intended to restrict its response to extremist acts to the "necessary minimum."

About 680 people have been killed since September, including more than 500 Palestinians and about 150 Israelis.

Waffa Munayyer of CNN's Jerusalem Bureau contributed to this report.

• United Nations
• Israel Defense Forces
• Palestinian Authority
• Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
• U.S. Department of State
• The White House

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