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Israeli troops shot dead a senior Hebron-area Islamic Jihad leader yesterday, after he bolted from a house that had been surrounded.

Israel Defense Forces soldiers surrounded the house, located in the West Bank village of Dura near Hebron, before dawn and ordered those inside to come out, according to Palestinian sources. A number of Palestinians exited, but Majid Abu-Dosh remained inside and then tried to flee wearing a bulletproof vest containing a grenade. He did not fire at the soldiers.

Afterward, the soldiers fired anti-tank missiles at the house, on suspicion that other wanted suspects were still hiding inside. In the afternoon, the house was destroyed.

Abu-Dosh, 25, is considered the "operations officer" of Islamic Jihad in the Hebron area, and the right-hand man of Islamic Jihad leader Mohammed Sidr, who was killed by the Police Special Anti-Terror Unit in August. Abu-Dosh is said to have planned the attack on Worshippers' Way in Hebron last November in which 12 members of the security forces were killed, and of dispatching the two terrorists who attacked the West Bank settlement of Othniel in December, killing four yeshiva students.

The incident came hours after IDF soldiers arrested 14 wanted fugitives of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Fatah Tanzim in the areas of Jenin, Nablus and Ramallah. One of those arrested in the overnight raids was a 17-year-old who had apparently planned to carry out a suicide bombing for Hamas.

In a related development, a West Bank military court sentenced Nadel Surachjar to life imprisonment. Surachjar attempted a suicide bombing on a bus in the French Hill neighborhood of Jerusalem in February 2002, but the bomb did not explode due to a technical malfunction.