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Heavy exchange of gunfire reported in Ramallah

Sharon, Peres meet on peace proposal

Hamas members portraying suicide bombers with dynamite props wrapped around their waists demonstrate in Gaza on Friday  

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- A heavy exchange of gunfire between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers was reported near Ramallah on Friday, one of three West Bank towns where shooting between the two sides occurred.

Fighting also was reported at Tulkarem and at Kalkilya.

In Ramallah, Palestinians said gunfire could be heard and Israeli troops responded.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society described the shooting as "heavy" and said the Israelis had responded to the gunfire with rockets and machine guns.

A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces said the firing was heavy but denied any rockets were used. He said soldiers responded with rifle and machine gun fire.

graphic Recent acts of violence in the Middle East:
 • Bombings
 • Activist deaths

The Red Crescent said 15 people were injured, 12 of them hit by live-fire ammunition. One of those hurt, they said, was critically injured when he was hit in the chest.

One person was injured at Tulkarem, the Red Crescent said, but no one hurt in the exchange at Kalkilya.

Israel Radio said the gun battle in Ramallah occurred shortly after Israeli and Palestinian security officials concluded a meeting there on how to curb the violence.

Earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres met to discuss a Jordanian-Egyptian peace proposal as Peres prepares to leave for talks in those two countries.

The Israeli government has been saying it has reservations about the plan but has not rejected it.

A statement said the meetings that Peres will hold in Egypt and Jordan "are intended to bring about a cessation of the terror and violence, and thus create the necessary infrastructure for renewing the peace negotiations.

"An additional assessment will be conducted following the Foreign Minister's return," the statement continued.

Peres will visit Egypt on Sunday and is also planning to visit Jordan, Israeli officials said. Peres will leave Egypt for a three-day visit to the United States.

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Israeli Prime Minister's Office
Knesset, Israeli Parliament
Israel Defense Forces
Permanent Mission of Israel to the U.N.
Palestinian National Authority
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