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Ten die in fresh Mideast violence

Israeli action came after Sharon convened a Security Cabinet meeting
Israeli action came after Sharon convened a Security Cabinet meeting  

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Ten people have been killed in the latest round of clashes in the Middle East, according to Israeli and Palestinian sources, dealing another blow to the peace process.

Israeli forces struck back -- rolling tanks and bulldozers into northern Gaza Wednesday -- after an attack on the Elei Sinai Jewish settlement left two Israelis dead.

Israeli sources said two Palestinians who entered the settlement and opened fire Tuesday afternoon were killed.

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The Palestine Red Crescent Society said four Palestinian security officers and a farmer were killed in the Israeli retaliatory strike.

Later, the Red Crescent said a Palestinian civilian had been shot in the head and killed near Elei Sinai and two others had been wounded and were in critical condition.

The Israeli army rolled into northern Gaza Wednesday morning with tanks and bulldozers on a mission to destroy and clear the buildings it said Palestinian gunmen had used hours earlier to stage the attack on the Elei Sinai settlement, Israeli military sources said.

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Israeli radio said the Israeli army has gone into Palestinian-controlled territory one kilometer and quoted the region commander, saying that they are planning to stay there for now.

Also on Wednesday morning, Palestinian security sources said Israel launched sea-based missile attacks on six Palestinian National Security outposts in northern Gaza.

The Israeli army spokesman denied the military had fired on the outposts from sea.

In the wake of Tuesday's attack at Elei Sinai, which was condemned by the Palestinian Authority, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon convened a security Cabinet meeting in the early hours Wednesday.

The military wing of the militant Muslim group Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

It came only hours after U.S. President George W. Bush said a Palestinian state had always been "part of a vision" if Israel's right to exist is respected. The attack also comes as the United States is working to build an international coalition to fight terrorism.

A statement from the office of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat said: "Palestinian leadership announces that it condemns the attack on the settlement of Elei Sinai in the northern Gaza Strip.

"This statement affirms that this attack is a breach of the cease-fire agreement.

"The Palestinian Authority took and will take further measures that are required to respect and implement the cease-fire, and to stop any breach from our side.

"President Arafat issued strict orders to the security apparatus to identify those responsible for the attack and to take measures against them."


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