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Five killed in Mideast gunbattle

Israeli soldier
An Israeli soldier wounded in an attack on his base arrives at a hospital  


KHAN YUNIS, Gaza (CNN) -- Three Israeli soldiers and two Palestinians have been killed in a gunbattle at an Israeli military outpost in Gaza.

The Israeli army said two Palestinian militants entered the base near the Jewish settlement of Neve Dekalim in southern Gaza early on Saturday, opening fire and throwing several grenades.

CNN's Ben Wedeman said one deputy battalion commander and two soldiers were killed in the gunbattle. The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine admitted carrying out the attack.

Quoting the Israeli army, he said one Palestinian was killed during an exchange of fire, while the second was shot dead by soldiers as he tried to escape.

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Seven Israeli soldiers were also injured in the attack, Israeli military officials said.

Israeli government spokesman Avi Pazner told Reuters news agency: "This attack is particularly serious because they have penetrated an Israeli base... Israel will respond accordingly."

The southern Gaza strip has been sealed off and Israeli helicopters are flying over the area. The Palestinian Authority has evacuated all its headquarters in anticipation of an Israeli attack, Wedeman added.

Meanwhile, Palestinians on Friday failed to get a United Nations Security Council resolution passed which would have condemned Israel for recent violence in the region.

For the third time in less than a year, they were forced to withdraw a draft resolution on the 11-month-old conflict with Israel after the United States had made clear it would block the measure, which called for the deployment of monitors to quell the violence.

Several other Security Council members had also indicated they would not support it.

Chief Palestinian U.N. delegate Nasser al-Kidwa said the draft resolution would be revived at a later date.

In December, a similar measure by the Palestinians was just one vote short of being adopted by the Security Council.

Meanwhile, Palestinian President Yasser Arafat has been continuing a tour of Asia with a visit to Vietnam late on Friday.

During a meeting with Arafat, Vietnamese Prime Minister Phan Van Khai reaffirmed his country's support for the Palestinian people, but expressed concern over the escalating violence in the region.






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RELATED SITES:
• Israel Defense Forces
• Palestinian Red Crescent Society
• Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
• Palestinian Authority
• United Nations

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