Seven Palestinians are killed despite Mideast truce talks

Associated Press

NABLUS, West Bank — Seven Palestinians died Wednesday in an upsurge of violence in the West Bank and Gaza, including an apparent Israeli attempt to kill top Hamas leaders.

The bloodiest incident came when five Palestinians were killed by Israeli gunfire early Wednesday. The two sides gave widely differing accounts of the deaths. Israel said a special army unit discovered Palestinians planting a bomb alongside a West Bank road and opened fire, killing two. Later other armed men came to the scene and the soldiers killed three others.

Palestinians said only one of the five was a gunman.

Later, in the southern part of Gaza City, witnesses said two Israeli helicopters fired four missiles at two cars, killing one person. Palestinian security officials identified the dead man as Bilal al-Ghoul, 26, who was a member of Preventive Security, an arm of Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority, but later joined the militant Hamas.

The spike of violence overshadowed efforts to bring Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres together for talks on a new truce.

Peres, visiting his native Poland, said he would begin making arrangements for the meeting when he returns to Israel.

On Tuesday, Arafat suggested that they meet in Berlin. German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, standing next to Arafat in Ramallah, appeared surprised by the idea, but agreed to it.

Copyright ©2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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