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Five Israeli Soldiers Hurt in Palestinian Attacks (REUTERS) GAZA 02/03/05 04:22 PM ET)Source: http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=7532117 Reuters News Service Reuters News Service Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
GAZA (Reuters) - Palestinian gunmen wounded five Israeli soldiers in two separate attacks on Thursday in the occupied territories that shattered a two-week period of calm, the Israeli military said.

In the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian gunman attacked an Israeli checkpoint with grenades and gunfire, wounding two soldiers, an Israeli military source said.

Soldiers fired back at the gunman, killing him, Israeli media reported. Palestinian medics had no immediate comment.

Jewish settlers said a Palestinian passer-by was also wounded in the incident at the Orchan junction, north of a Jewish settlement bloc in southern Gaza.

The soldiers were the first Israeli casualties in nearly two weeks of calm that has prevailed since Palestinian police have deployed to rein in militants in Gaza, under orders from the recently elected moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Palestinians have accused Israel of disrupting the calm for continuing with pinpointed strikes against militants.

A military source said the gunman in Gaza had emerged after dark from a vehicle whose driver had claimed it had broken down at the checkpoint.

After the troops told the Palestinians to push the vehicle away, a gunman jumped out, threw grenades and shot at soldiers.

Soldiers fired back at the gunman and the troops who were shot were injured lightly, the source said.

In the West Bank, a gunman opened fire on Israelis near the Eshkolot settlement south of the city of Hebron, wounding three soldiers, one of them seriously, a military source said.

The two attacks came hours after Israel approved a troop pullback from West Bank cities and the release of 900 Palestinian prisoners as confidence-building gestures ahead of a summit next week in Egypt of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Officials said earlier that they hoped the Feb. 8 summit could cement a de facto truce in the Palestinian territories.

The efforts of Abbas, a moderate elected last month to succeed Yasser Arafat, to end the violence of a 4-year-old uprising and a deployment of Palestinian police in Gaza had drastically cut the number of violent incidents there. (© Reuters 2005 02/03/05)

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