Three Palestinians shot dead as Israeli forces raid Bethlehem
Three Palestinians were shot dead late Thursday and early Friday by Israeli troops. In a village west of the West Bank city of Hebron, Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian, who they had come to arrest Thursday night, Israel Radio reported. In the Gaza Strip, Palestinian sources reported that occupation troops killed two Palestinians near the Dugit settlement.
Later, Hamas announced the two were part of a "national unity" cell composed of activists from Hamas, Fatah and Islamic Jihad. It said the activists were on special mission in Dugit area when occupation troops spotted them and opened fire.
Meanwhile, less than 24 hours after the suicide bombing in Jerusalem that killed 10 Israelis, some 20 Israeli military vehicles entered Bethlehem, in an operation that appeared to destroying the house where the bomber lived, in the Aida refugee camp next to Bethlehem.
Before dawn Friday, Israeli forces instructed Palestinian security officers to abandon checkpoints outside Bethlehem, and troops moved into the town, residents said. After a few hours the occupation forces moved out the city.
Israeli security officials said earlier that Sharon and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz met late Thursday to discuss retaliation options.
In Ramallah area, Israeli forces razed six houses belonging to Hamas activists the army said was responsible for an attack at Ein Yabrud in which three soldiers were killed, according to media report.
On the diplomatic front, United Nations Security Council diplomats failed to agree on a statement condemning the suicide bombing in Jerusalem on Thursday. Israel called that failure "outrageous."
Council diplomats said three hours of closed-door negotiations fell apart when Algeria, the only Arab nation on the council, insisted that any statement must also condemn the deaths of eight Palestinians in an Israeli incursion into Gaza City on Wednesday.
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)