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Mideast rivals launch attacks

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Attacks are casting doubt on a proposed Israeli-Palestinian meeting  

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- At least five Israelis were killed Sunday in three separate Mideast attacks.

Israel launched helicopter air strikes against Palestinian targets in the West Bank, the head of the Palestinian Security Force told CNN.

The violence broke out as politicians attempted to engineer a meeting between Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.

CNN'S Jerrold Kessel said hopes for that meeting are diminishing as the violence continues.

A bomber killed three people and himself at a rail station in Nahariya, northern Israel.

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A second explosion reported by Israel TV to be a car bomb went off near the coastal city of Netanya. Local media reported one person died and another was wounded but the toll has not been independently confirmed.

Earlier gunmen fired at a minibus carrying teachers to a settler school in the West Bank killing two people -- believed to be the driver and one of the teachers.

The chief of the Palestinian Security Force told CNN two Palestinian targets -- a Fatah headquarters and a security checkpoint -- in Ramallah were hit in an Israeli helicopter attack.

The Palestine Red Crescent has not reported any casualties in the air strike.

Eyewitnesses to the Nahariya rail station blast told reporters the bomber walked out of a nearby shop to set off the device as a train pulled into the station. More than 30 people were injured.

In telephone calls to news organizations Islamic Jihad has admitted it carried out the drive-by shooting, which killed two and injured three.

The bus careered off a road in the Jordan Valley region as it took a group of teachers to a settler school in the West Bank, Israeli police told CNN.

A body lies covered up after Sunday's blast at a rail station in Nahariya in northern Israel
A body lies covered up after Sunday's blast at a rail station in Nahariya in northern Israel  

The Palestine Red Crescent reported that a 13-year-old boy had been shot dead. Israel has denied any of its troops were firing in the area where the boy died.

On Saturday Israeli helicopters missiles fired on a regional office in Ramallah used by Palestinian Authority President Arafat's Fatah faction -- an action Israel said was prompted by a series of shootings.

Efforts to kick start talks have been made with both sides reporting a possible meeting between Peres and Arafat next week.

But Palestinians cast doubt on that meeting in the aftermath of Saturday's helicopter attack. Palestinian Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo, quoted by The Associated Press news agency, said the attack "will destroy the aims of this meeting before it's even held."

Israel said the strike in Ramallah was because of the many shooting incidents in the area in recent days, including one on Thursday in which an Israeli officer was killed and another wounded.

Peres is said to have a mandate from Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to work with the Palestinians on a dialogue that will lead to a real cease-fire agreement and then the implementation of the Mitchell Report.

That report -- an investigation by an international panel into the causes of the Al Aqsa Intifada, which has been raging for nearly a year -- calls for a cease-fire, cooling-off period, and the eventual resumption of peace talks between the two sides.

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