Report: Police Probing Claim Settlers Shot Dead Palestinian Man

Police are investigating allegations that settlers shot and killed a Palestinian man Friday, after funerals were held for five residents of the West Bank settlement of Itamar who were killed Thursday night by Palestinian gunmen, Channel One news reported.

According to Palestinian reports, the Palestinian youth was killed by Israelis who entered the village of Burin, near Nablus, Army Radio reported. They said that the Israelis also set fire to several houses in the village.

Army Radio reported earlier Friday that a scuffle broke out during the funeral between settlers who believe that a fence should be built around the settlement and those who object. Channel Two news reported that the camera of a reporter who filmed funeral - despite the funeral organizer's request not to cover the event - was broken.

Thousands attended the funerals Friday afternoon for the victims of the Itamar attack. The dead included four members of a single family: the mother Rachel Shabbo and her three children, Neria, 15, Zvi, 12, and Avishai 5, as well as the settlement's security officer Yosef Twito. Two of the wounded were also children from the same family.

Shortly after 9 P.M. Thursday, two armed Palestinians entered the settlement, only part of which is fenced. Both were carrying assault rifles and hand grenades. The two broke into a house and opened fire on the family inside, then holed up inside the house and began shooting in all directions.

IDF officers said the attack did not appear to be aimed at taking hostages, but rather at killing as many Israelis as possible. Large numbers of IDF troops rushed to the scene and laid siege to the house, while other residents of the settlement were asked to remain indoors until the incident had ended. The firefight lasted for almost an hour before troops from an undercover Border Police unit succeeded in killing the terrorists.

Two border policemen were wounded during the battle - one seriously and the other lightly. The soldiers and Magen David Adom crews began evacuating the injured while the firefight was still taking place, but four of the victims proved to be mortally wounded and died shortly thereafter.

The house itself went up in flames - whether accidentally or deliberately is not yet known - and fire fighting forces also rushed to the area in an effort to keep the fire from spreading, eventually dousing the blaze.

It was not clear who was behind the attack. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian claimed responsibility, but a statement broadcast by the Hezbollah television station in Lebanon, Al Manar, said that the attack was carried out by the Ali Mustafa Brigades, and several hours later the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the military wing of PA Chairman Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, also claimed the attack.