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Israeli missiles hit West Bank

police
Palestinian police officers guard the remains of their headquarters in Gaza.  


JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israel used missiles and tanks against Palestinian facilities in the West Bank on Sunday evening, and a Palestinian and an Israeli died in new clashes.

Palestinian officials said Israel fired six missiles at Palestinian Authority police and security posts in Tulkarem and shelled the offices of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's elite guard, Force 17, in Bitunya.

The Palestinian Red Crescent society said three people were injured when Israeli forces fired tank rounds at two different locations in Albire, near Ramallah.

The latest fighting came after Israel used tanks, troops and fighter jets to strike at Palestinian targets in the West Bank and Gaza early Sunday in response to attacks that killed five Israelis on Saturday.

Arafat toured the wreckage of his police offices in Gaza on Sunday vowing, "We will not be shaken or weakened by coward attacks." Palestinian security officials said Israel used U.S.-made 2,000-pound bombs in its airstrikes on Gaza.

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Amid continuing violence, Israelis and Palestinians are resolute about their aims. CNN's Jerrold Kessel reports (August 26)

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Palestinians say Israel's tactics may provoke extremists. CNN's Ben Wedeman reports (August 26)

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CNN's Jerrold Kessel: Palestinian posts vacated before latest attacks
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Also on Sunday, Israeli police and hospital sources said an Israeli civilian was killed in a drive-by shooting near Kibbutz Magal, near the Israeli-West Bank border. The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a Palestinian group associated with Arafat's Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for the shooting.

In northern Gaza, the Israeli army said it used tank rounds and light weapons to repel an attempted infiltration of an Israeli settlement. An 18-year-old Palestinian was shot in the chest and killed, Palestinians sources said.

The Israel Defense Forces had no immediate comment on Sunday afternoon's attacks, which followed its pre-dawn incursion into Rafah and F-16 fighter strikes against Palestinian buildings in Gaza and the West Bank.

Israeli officials said Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is trying to contain Palestinian violence rather than being drawn into a broader confrontation.

"There are no quick solutions," said Sharon adviser Dore Gold. "This is not armored warfare in the Sinai, where you encircle divisions of the other side and end it in six days. But with determination and perseverance, Israel will win this struggle."

The Israeli army said it razed a security post in Rafah in southern Gaza and several Palestinian roadblocks. Palestinian witnesses said Israeli armored units moved about three kilometers (1.7 miles) inside Palestinian-controlled territory and engaged in a heavy exchange of gunfire.

A 17-year-old Palestinian security officer was killed in Rafah and five others were injured, Palestinian sources said.

The Israeli attacks were a response to Saturday's killings of three Israeli soldiers at an Israeli military outpost in Gaza and two Israeli civilians shot to death in a car traveling near Jerusalem, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.

Among the dead in the Palestinian attack in Gaza was a deputy battalion commander, security sources said. The two Palestinian attackers were killed in the assault, for which the Syrian-based Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility.

Some Israeli observers are concerned that Arafat's influence is waning: Israeli attacks have taken a heavy toll on Arafat's infrastructure and on the morale of his security forces. Many Palestinian Authority police officers have joined more radical Palestinian groups who have shown little interest in a cease-fire.

"Arafat doesn't know how to push the brake," said analyst Ehud Ya'ari. "Our fear is that he will not be able to push the brake at the right moment now, and later on he may force Israel to take military measures that Israel does not want to take and is trying to avoid."

About 700 people have died in Israeli-Palestinian violence that began after peace talks stalled last September.

In an interview with The Associated Press, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak said Israel is "ready" to accept "two states for two peoples west of the Golan River -- a Jewish democratic Zionist state and beside it, a Palestinian state." But Barak said his experience negotiating with Arafat in U.S.-sponsored peace talks at Camp David showed "Arafat is not the kind of Palestinian Sadat or Palestinian King Hussein."

"He doesn't have the character or the will or the ability," Barak said. "He doesn't have the qualities to bring about the painful decisions that will take the challenge proper, and as a result of it unfortunately we have to do it painfully and unilaterally."

Barak also praised President Bush for his "top-notch instincts for leadership" in urging Arafat to restrain Palestinian violence. But his comments prompted sharp criticism from Palestinian spokeswoman Hanan Ashrawi, who accused Bush of "parroting the Israeli point of view."

"We have now a full and absolute American bias," Ashrawi told AP. She said U.S. officials "have appointed themselves the guardian of Israel, right or wrong."

-- CNN Correspondents Jerrold Kessel and Ben Wedeman contributed to this report.






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• Palestinian Red Crescent Society
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• The Israeli Government's Official Website, by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
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