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ARABS-ISRAEL - Aug 25 - Israeli Troops Kill 5 Palestinians In West Bank Raid.

Israeli troops kill five Palestinians in an overnight West Bank raid, the army's first deadly strike since it removed Jewish settlers from occupied lands. Palestinian militants vowed revenge. A new wave of violence would jeopardise a truce that largely held while Israel scrapped 21 settlements in Gaza and four in the West Bank and make it harder to capitalise on the pullout by reviving Middle East peacemaking. Hours before the raid a Palestinian stabbed to death an ultra-Orthodox Jew and wounded another in Jerusalem's walled Old City in an attack police said was motivated by nationalism. Troops swept into Tulkarm refugee camp in the West Bank to arrest five Palestinian militants wanted for two suicide bombings in Israel this year that violated the ceasefire, an Israeli military source said. Five Palestinians were killed in a gunbattle, the source told Reuters. "The intention was to come to arrest them. All were wanted and all were armed". Palestinian witnesses said three of the dead were unarmed teenagers and two were militants, one from the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed group in Palestinian Pres Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement, and the other from Islamic Jihad. In Gaza City, Islamic Jihad spokesman Abu Abdallah said: The Zionist enemy will be taught an unforgettable lesson for this crime. Revenge is inevitable. This will not go unpunished". Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri described the Israeli raid as a "grave escalation ... Resistance factions will not stand handcuffed against this crime". Militant groups agreed in talks with Abbas in March on an informal "calm" at least until the end of 2005 to smooth Israel's planned pullout and give him a chance to resume talks with Israel on Palestinian statehood in Gaza and the West Bank. The truce, while greatly reducing violence overall, has been spotty. Until mid-July, there were periodic bouts of militant mortar and rocket fire at settlers, two suicide attacks and a number of Israeli raids for wanted men in the West Bank. The two sides have blamed each other for breaking the quiet. Israeli security forces shut down all 25 settlements in six days, two weeks ahead of schedule, after feared fierce resistance by ultra-nationalist Jewish foes of "disengagement" failed to materialise. Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz said Israeli military forces were expected to leave Gaza in mid-September, 38 years after Israel captured the territory along with Gaza and Arab East Jerusalem, including the Old City, in a Middle East war. All that remained, he said, was to complete demolitions of settler houses and synagogues and dismantle army bases. But Israel, citing a need to prevent smuggling to militants in Gaza, aims to maintain its grip over the territory's sea lanes and air space. Palestinians say occupation will not really end until Gaza gains free access to the outside world.
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Geographic Code:7PALE
Date:Aug 27, 2005
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