2 Palestinians Killed in Jenin; IDF Destroys 3 Houses in Gaza

Two Palestinian militants were killed Saturday in a shootout with IDF troops in the West Bank city of Jenin, Israel Radio reported.

A member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, linked to Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, said the men had opened fire on Israeli troops patrolling in Jenin, who returned fire.

Army Radio quoted Palestinian sources as saying that one of those killed in Jenin was the Khatem el-Ot, head of Fatah's military wing in Jenin.

In Nablus, a 35-year-old Palestinian woman suspected of cooperating with Israel was abducted Friday and shot dead Saturday, according to Palestinian sources. An Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades militant said Saturday that the woman was murdered after admitting to giving Israel information which helped the IDF assassinate two senior members of the Fatah movement on August 7.

IDF troops fired at four suspected terrorists near West Bank village of Azmut late Friday night and injured two of the men. The troops then arrested one of the injured Palestinians, who was carrying explosives, knives and ammunition, and took him to a hospital in Israel.

IDF demolishes three houses in Gaza StripIDF soldiers demolished Saturday three Palestinian houses west of Kfar Darom, near the Gaza Strip town of Deir al-Balah, witnesses and security officials said.

An Israeli military source said the houses had been long abandoned due to frequent gunbattles in the area, but were razed because they provided cover for gunmen and a lookout for militants planning infiltrations into the nearby settlement.

Also Saturday, some 300 demonstrators from the Ta'ayush movement entered the West Bank town of Hawara near Nablus. One demonstrator was arrested by police while another was injured. The demonstrators had tried to enter Nablus proper, but soldiers prevented them from entering.

Palestinian witnesses said that an IDF tank opened fire on stone throwers in the West Bank town of Nablus on Saturday, injuring six people. The army said a patrol was shot at in Nablus and fired a tank shell at the source in return. IDF officials did not say if there were any casualties.

Earlier Saturday, the IDF entered a Palestinian police station in the West Bank town of Hebron and arrested a man, whisking him away blindfolded and handcuffed in an armored personnel carrier, witnesses said. No details were available on the identity of the arrested man. The army did not immediately comment.

IDF troops prevented an attempt early Friday morning by three armed Palestinians to infiltrate the Gaza Strip settlement of Kfar Darom.

In a phone call to The Associated Press, a caller claimed responsibility on behalf of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, a branch of Palestinian Authority Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction.

Two of the gunmen, dressed in IDF uniforms and armed with assault rifles and hand grenades, were shot dead in exchanges of fire with troops after they were spotted near the security fence at the settlement, the army said. Troops were chasing after a third militant.

A military source said the first militant was killed in a gun battle near the fence early on Friday.

"The second terrorist escaped to a nearby abandoned house. The forces told him to come out and surrender. He did not come out. There was an exchange of fire and he was also killed," the source said.

At the funeral for one of the gunmen, Fatah activists using loudspeakers told thousands of mourners he had "paid with his life to rid the people of the ugly 'Gaza First'," a plan whereby Palestinian security forces would curb violence in the territory in return for Israel easing an army clampdown on civilian areas.

On Friday evening, an IDF soldier was lightly wounded by shots fired by Palestinian gunmen in the vicinity of the West Bank settlement of Itamar, near Nablus.

Shots were also fired Friday night at an IDF outpost adjacent to the settlement of Gadid, in the Gaza Strip.

Also in the West Bank on Friday, the army demolished the Tul Karm home of a Hamas member suspected of involvement in the Passover suicide bombing at the Park Hotel in Netanya.

Meeting fails between PA's Yehiyeh, Hamas and Islamic JihadPalestinian Interior Minister Abel Razak Yehiyeh failed on Thursday to convince militant and national factions to back an end to attacks against Israelis and accept Israel's plan to ease its military clampdown in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The talks in Gaza between Yehiyeh and 13 factions, including militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, were important because consensus is essential to the future success of the plan, seen as a test for a full truce.

Israel Radio reported that the PA would renew talks with the groups on Sunday.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad had rejected the "Gaza-Bethlehem First" plan before and have vowed to continue attacks as part of what they call resisting the occupation. Mahmoud Zahar, a senior Hamas member, said Yehiyeh told the meeting that he had not agreed anything in writing with Israel. Militant groups and factions had feared there was a written commitment for the Palestinian Authority to arrest radicals.