Gunmen kill four; tanks enter Gaza City

Saturday, July 27, 2002

JERUSALEM -- Palestinian gunmen opened fire Friday on two Israeli cars near a Jewish settlement in the southern West Bank, killing four people and injuring three others, the army and rescue officials said.

Three of the slain settlers were members of the same family who were on their way to spend the Sabbath with friends in a nearby settlement, Israel Radio said.

The two attacks took place near the Jewish settlement of Carmel, southeast of Hebron, said settler spokesman Yehoshua Mor-Yosef. Three people were killed in the first car, and one person in the second car, he added.

An army spokesman confirmed four dead. Medics with the Magen David Adom rescue service said three people were injured, one of them seriously.

The attacks came after seven Israeli tanks and a bulldozer flattened a Palestinian intelligence post and destroyed two metal workshops in Gaza City, in the first operation since a heavily criticized bombing attack there killed a Hamas leader and 14 civilians, including nine children.

Before the forces withdrew, gunmen fired at the Israelis, and two Palestinians were wounded in the exchange, witnesses said.

The nighttime raid into Gaza marks at least the third time Israeli tanks have moved against Gaza City in the past 22 months of fighting. The previous two incursions only reached the fringes of the city.

Destroyed workshops

The Israeli military said soldiers destroyed three buildings containing rocket workshops. "During the past few days, dozens of mortar shells and Qassam rockets were launched toward army posts and Israeli communities inside and outside the Gaza Strip," an army statement said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the shootings of the Israeli cars. Settlers in the West Bank have been targets of dozens of shooting attacks during 22 months of fighting.

Several groups also have vowed to seek revenge for Israel's airstrike in Gaza, which killed Hamas military commander Salah Shehadeh.

David Baker, an official in the office of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said Friday's attack was "graphic proof of the extent of Palestinian terror and how totally devoted they are to killing innocent Israeli civilians."

"Israel is resolved to rid itself of the noose of terror hanging over us," Baker said.

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