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Israeli troops spotted a Palestinian in the security zone about 50 meters from the fence separating Gaza from Israel and shot him dead early yesterday. Palestinian security forces found an explosive device next to the man's body and detonated it. The Israel Defense Forces told Haaretz the man presumably was going to plant the device in the area, south of the Karni crossing in central Gaza, where numerous such devices have been placed by terrorists.

A soldier was hurt yesterday afternoon during an operation in the Balata refugee camp near Nablus. Troops found a cache of explosives hidden in an apartment in Nablus, including improvised explosives and chemicals used in explosive belts, as well as instructions on how to prepare bombs.

The explosive cache is the sixth found since the IDF began its present operation in the Nablus casbah a week ago.

Troops also found two Qassam rockets in the process of being made. The operation followed an increase in specific warnings coming out of Nablus of terror attacks.

Three mortars were fired Friday from the Khan Yunis refugee camp at the settlement of Neve Dekalim in Gush Katif. Two fell in an open area, and one fell on a house but did not explode. The house was lightly damaged, and a woman inside went into shock.

The mortars were reportedly fired in response to the IDF's destruction the previous night of three buildings in the camp long used by the Palestinians to fire anti-tank rockets at the settlement of Gadid and an adjacent army outpost.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said last week on a visit to the Gaza Strip that Israel wants to avoid withdrawal from the Strip under fire, which the Palestinians would view as an expulsion by force, as Hezbollah viewed the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon. The IDF partially blames the outbreak of the intifada on this scenario, and the army wants the Gaza withdrawal to take place without a similar wave of terror. It is therefore carrying out operations to nip the organization of terror cells in the bud, yet not engender a wave of retaliation.

The IDF assassination attempt last week on a top Hamas activist in the Gaza Strip last week, which left five of his associates dead but missed the target, was a failure from the army's perspective, because it led to the Qassam attack on Thursday on Sderot in which a car was demolished and several citizens went into shock.

Brigadier General Shmuel Zakkai called in an evaluation for a muted reaction to Qassam fire. It was decided to fire on the launch site and briefly cut off the Strip at three points, from Thursday to Friday.

The IDF will be increasing the number of Palestinians permitted to work in Israel and at the Erez industrial zone, which stands at present at more than 2,000 a day.