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Israel: Fatah member killed while making bomb

RAFAH, Gaza (CNN) -- Israel Defense Forces said Monday that a member of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat's Fatah political movement died Sunday while working on a bomb that exploded in his home.

The IDF statement contradicts Palestinian security sources who said Sunday that the victims -- identified by the IDF as Samir Abu Zeid and two of his children -- were killed by an Israeli missile attack in the Gaza town of Rafah along the Egyptian border.

The IDF said it believes Zeid was making a bomb.

Israeli security sources initially said a preliminary investigation revealed that a Palestinian mortar shell hit Zeid's home -- instead of its intended Israeli target -- during an exchange of fire between Israelis and Palestinians.

Meanwhile, Israel Radio reported that Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres would use his scheduled meeting Monday with German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer to pass a message to the Palestinians. Fischer is on a three-day visit to the region.

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Peres is said to want a meeting with Arafat to discuss his plan for a phased-in cease-fire.

The Jerusalem daily newspaper Ha'aretz reported that Peres wants to propose that Israel and the Palestinians implement a region-by-region cease-fire with Israel lifting restrictions on the Palestinians in each region where the violence stops.

In other developments, Palestinian sources said an Israeli tank and four jeeps tried to enter an area of Palestinian control, and a gun battle ensued. The Israelis withdrew without entering, the sources said.

The Israeli army said its troops came under fire from Palestinians and responded to the source of the fire.

A 60-year-old Palestinian woman was wounded by shrapnel in her thigh as a result of shelling of her house, the sources said.

On Sunday, Israel said it launched two separate attacks in retaliation for a Palestinian mortar attack on Gush Khatif -- an Israeli settlement in Gaza -- which slightly wounded one Israeli civilian.

Israel said it fired two missiles on the headquarters of Force 17 -- Arafat's elite guard unit -- and fired two tank shells at a Palestinian military base.

Four Palestinians were injured in the attacks, which took place near the Palestinian refugee camp of Khan Younis.

Another incident in Gaza on Sunday resulted in the death of a 13-year-old Palestinian boy. Israel said the incident was in response to Palestinian grenade and gunfire attacks against IDF troops in Rafah.

Israel Defense Forces said it returned fire only when it was able to identify the attackers.






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