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Israeli troops enter Palestinian town

Troops
There have been fierce gun battles in the West Bank  

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli troops briefly entered the Palestinian-ruled West Bank town of Beit Jala amid fierce gun battles with Palestinians Sunday.

Israeli tanks pounded buildings in the town, south of Jerusalem, during several hours of fighting, which the Israeli military said followed gun fire on nearby motorists.

CNN's Jerrold Kessel said there were local reports that a 45-year-old member of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement had been killed and 14 people -- including a young boy --seriously injured.

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CNNís Jerrold Kessel: Israel enters Palestinian-controlled area

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Mitchell Report denounces Jewish settlement growth

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The Israeli military has confirmed that soldiers had entered Beit Jala for a short time amid the fighting with no injuries on their side.

Beit Jala, with the nearby Jewish enclave of Gilo, has been a flashpoint between the two sides since the Palestinian uprising began in September.

Altogether the conflict has so far claimed around 500 lives -- the vast majority Palestinian.

Earlier Sunday a woman was slightly injured by an explosive device left in a rubbish bin in Petah Tikva, near Tel Aviv.

The blast was near the central bus station -- the third time the area has been targeted since the uprising began -- and occurred during rush hour on what is the first day of the Israeli work week.

Israeli ambulance worker Sando Simovich told Army Radio that the woman was injured by shrapnel and four others were treated for shock.

Kessel said Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had rejected a call by Arafat for a summit following the release of an international report into the causes of the conflict, saying that the violence must end first.

The five-man committee led by former U.S. Senator George Mitchell delivered the report to Israeli and Palestinian leaders Friday.

Kessel said the Israeli's could be "guardedly satisfied" by its findings which says a visit by Sharon's visit to a holy site sacred to both Muslims and Jews -- called Temple Mount by Israelis and Haram al-Sharif by Palestinians -- which occurred just before the violence erupted on September 28, 2000 was not the direct cause.

Unexpectedly it also calls for a ban on all building in the Jewish settlements in disputed areas which Sharon has also rejected.

Both sides have until May 15 to respond to its findings.



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RELATED SITES:
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Palestinian National Authority
Palestinian Red Crescent
Israeli Government
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