A Palestinian man was shot dead and two others injured during a gunbattle in the West Bank with Israeli troops seeking to capture a member of the Palestinian security forces, Palestinian hospital sources said.
According to AFP, the shoot-out erupted after Israeli forces descended upon the office of military information in Betunia, near Ramallah, where their target, Riad Nayef, was working.
Nayef, believed to be one of the two men injured, was reportedly captured during the Israeli raid. He is wanted in Israel in connection with anti-Israeli attacks.
Those injured were evacuated by the Israeli forces while the remains of the dead, a man in his twenties, were handed over to the Palestinians. According to witnesses, the Israeli forces also made several arrests.
An Israeli army spokesman confirmed that the operation had taken place, speaking of "an exhange of fire, during the arrest of suspects," in Betunia.
Additionally, the Israeli army arrested 10 Palestinians in the West Bank late Monday night. Palestinian sources said that one of the men arrested was Loui Abdu, a senior Fatah member from Nablus.
Israeli security forces were on high alert Tuesday in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank due to serious warnings of imminent attacks, Israel Radio said. The Tanzim, Hamas and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) groups were increasing their efforts to carry out attacks, the report added.
The latest incidents came hours before Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres was scheduled to meet with Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, finance minister Salam Fayad and interior minister Abdel Razak al-Yahya in Tel Aviv.
Peres and Erekat are to discuss the possibility of easing the plight of West Bank and Gaza Strip residents and requests by the Palestinian Authority to receive an additional allotment of PA funds frozen since the beginning of the uprising nearly two years ago, Israel Radio reported.
It said Peres met Prime Minister Ariel Sharon overnight to coordinate their positions ahead of the talks, which are to take place before the foreign minister leaves for the United States late on Tuesday. Peres is to participate in UN meetings and in ceremonies marking the anniversary of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.
The Palestinians are also inclined to ask for easing of the widespread Israeli blockades in place throughout the territories.
Mahmoud Abbas, the secretary-general of the PLO's executive committee, also known as Abu Mazen, said he would not meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Israel Radio reported Tuesday.
Abu Mazen said he would not meet with Sharon, after he conveyed that the diplomatic process that began in Oslo no longer exists, according to the radio report. (Albawaba.com)
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