JERUSALEM -- An Israeli helicopter missile killed a senior member of the Palestinian militant group Hamas on Wednesday, and Israeli troops gunned down five other militants, including two plotting to ambush settlers.
Despite the violence, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Israel was ready to negotiate with the Palestinians.
The Palestinians said they were ready to talk, but dismissed Sharon's remarks.
In Oslo, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat condemned the slayings Wednesday and said he hoped for a fast international response to the violence.
A spokesman for the State Department, Richard Boucher, called on both sides Wednesday to stop the violence. He also urged Israel to move its forces out of Palestinian territory. Under strong U.S. pressure, Israel left Bethlehem and Beit Jalla on Sunday. But troops remain in four other towns.