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Dozen Palestinians killed in West Bank, Gaza

At least two civilians among dead; Israeli soldier also killed


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Israeli troops gather Monday near a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Gaza.
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Israeli operations continue in Gaza.
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(CNN) -- Israeli operations Monday and early Tuesday left three Palestinians and an Israeli soldier dead in the West Bank and nine Palestinians dead in Gaza, including at least two civilians, according to Israeli and Palestinian sources.

The Israeli action in the West Bank town of Ramallah late Monday was an undercover operation to arrest wanted Palestinians, Israeli military sources said.

Israeli Special Forces followed three members of Force 17, Yasser Arafat's personal guard, in their cars to a supermarket and began firing on them as they shopped, according to the Palestinian sources. One bystander was wounded and taken to a hospital.

Video from the scene showed the body of one of the men sprawled on the blood-splattered floor, groceries scattered about him.

Dozens of Palestinians, clapping and chanting in anger, carried the body outside and placed it in an ambulance.

The Palestinian sources said two Force 17 members were killed and a third one was wounded and taken away by the Israeli forces. The Israeli military later said three Palestinians were killed.

The Israeli military confirmed that one of its soldiers was killed.

In the video, heavily armed Israeli forces could be seen sealing off the street and arresting several Palestinians. The military said it was searching for wanted Palestinians.

Israeli attacks Monday and early Tuesday in Gaza were part of an operation that began six days earlier to end rocket attacks from the region into Israel.

Among the nine Palestinian dead was an 18-year-old woman killed Monday by Israeli fire in Gaza's Jabaliya refugee camp, Palestinian medical sources said.

Jabaliya is the largest refugee camp in Gaza, housing some 100,000 Palestinians. Israel had no word on the report.

Two other Palestinians were killed in separate incidents in the Jabaliya camp, security sources said.

The Israel Defense Forces said soldiers shot a Palestinian attempting to lay explosives in one incident. No details were available in the other.

In another incident in southern Gaza, a 4-year-old boy was shot and killed inside his home by gunfire from a nearby Israeli army watch tower in the village of Khuzaa near Khan Yunis, Palestinian sources said. The Israeli army said it was checking the report.

Elsewhere, Israeli shelling killed four Palestinians in Beit Lahaya in northern Gaza, Palestinian security sources said.

The IDF said troops targeted militants who were trying to activate an explosive device against Israeli forces.

Israel launched the "Days of Penitence" operation Wednesday after a Palestinian Qassam rocket hit the southern Israeli town of Sderot near the Gaza border, killing two Israeli children.

Israeli commanders said they will establish a 5.5-mile (9-kilometer) buffer zone, a move that would be beyond the range of the crudely made Qassam rockets.

In other regional violence Monday, an Israeli was lightly wounded when two Qassam rockets were fired at Sderot.

East of Gaza City, an Israeli airstrike wounded two Palestinians, including a commander of the military wing of Hamas, Palestinian medical sources said. The commander was on the street when he was hit.

Hamas is a Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist organization. The group's military wing, Izzedine al Qassam, has admitted responsibility for attacks against Israeli civilians as well as attacks against the Israeli military. The United States labels Hamas a terrorist organization.

In an Israeli attack early Tuesday, a single rocket fired at the Jabaliya camp from an unmanned drone killed a member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and wounded five others, two critically, Palestinian sources said. The IDF had no immediate comment.

The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, also labeled a terrorist organization by the United States, is a military offshoot of Arafat's Fatah movement that has carried out numerous attacks against Israeli military targets and civilians.

In the six days of the Israeli operation in Gaza, more than 70 Palestinians -- including civilians and militants -- have been killed, Palestinian sources said.

The Israeli army said about 30 Qassam rocket attacks had been launched into Israel or at Israeli settlements during the past month.

At the United Nations, Terje Roed Larsen, the U.N. envoy to the Middle East, renewed a call made this weekend by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan that both sides back down and begin talking.

Larsen said Israel must stop its operation and the Palestinian Authority must stop militants from firing into Israel.

"The rocket attacks into Israel have to stop," he said.

Larsen said it appears a planned Israeli withdrawal from Gaza "probably cannot be done at all" without "the full cooperation of the Palestinian Authority and the international community."

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said his disengagement plan won't be stopped.

"Evacuating the Gaza Strip is a plan that will be carried out and all orders have been given to ensure that there will be no fire at the time of the evacuation, and I believe not after that either," Sharon told Army Radio.

Annan has denounced the escalation in Israeli attacks over the past few days, and Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said they violated international law.

The league decided Sunday to ask the U.N. Security Council to intervene.


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