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Five killed in West Bank gunbattle

Sources: Israeli soldier, two Hamas activists among dead

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Palestinians look on Friday as a bulldozer scrapes at the rubble of a destroyed building in the West Bank.

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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- An already tenuous cease-fire declared by Palestinian militant groups stood on shakier ground Friday after four Palestinians and an Israeli soldier were killed in a gunbattle at a refugee camp in the West Bank.

Israel Radio identified one of the dead as Hamis Abu Salem, a Hamas member on Israel's list of wanted militants, and Palestinian sources identified another as Phaez Assader, also a Hamas activist.

Palestinian medical sources said two other Palestinian men also were killed during the firefight. One man, shot in the stomach, was involved in the battle, but the medical sources said the second was a bystander who inhaled tear gas.

The Israel Defense Forces identified the soldier as Roi Oren, 20.

Israeli troops entered the Asqar camp near Nablus early Friday to arrest Salem, the IDF said.

Israeli military said its troops fired on a house after coming under attack from the third floor of the building, which was then destroyed in a series of explosions.

Military sources said they believed the house might have been used to store explosives or ammunition.

Palestinian security sources said Israeli forces shot missiles into the building. Israeli military sources would say only that they used more than light weapons in the attack.

Izzedine al Qassam, the armed wing of the Hamas militant group, published a statement on the Internet that called on cells of the group to respond to the Nablus "crime," Palestinian sources in Gaza said.

Earlier, a Hamas spokesman told Israel Radio that the incident was a "gross violation" of the cease-fire that Palestinian militant groups declared June 29. Hamas, a Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist organization, has acknowledged terrorist attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians.

Bush: Palestinians need to 'root out' terrorists

President Bush called on Palestinian leaders Friday to "root out those who would like to destroy" the peace process with Israel.

Speaking to reporters at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, Bush said the fence Israel is building to divide itself from the West Bank is a reaction to Palestinian terrorist attacks, but reiterated his stance that it poses a problem.

"The fence ... kind of meanders around the West Bank, which makes it awfully hard to develop a contiguous state over time. And so, I say we have talked to the Israelis, and we are, about the fence."

Palestinians criticize Israel for building the fence, insisting it is an attempt to keep land that would become part of a Palestinian state and that it will cause further difficulties for people who live in the West Bank. Israel calls it a necessary move to help keep out terrorists.

Bush said the issue needs to be understood in a "larger context."

"In order for a Palestinian state to emerge, a couple of things must happen. First, the Palestinians, the people in the neighborhood, must deal with terror, must root out those who would like to destroy the process."

He added, "all parties must work against those who would make it very difficult to achieve the vision" of two states coexisting peacefully.

"In order for there to be the progress that needs to be made, there needs to be security. ... And the more secure Israel feels, the more likely there'll be a peaceful state. The more secure the region is, the more likely institutions necessary for the development of a Palestinian state will emerge."

Bush said his administration is staying "very active" and in touch with both parties.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military said it responded to rocket and missile attacks in the disputed Shebaa Farms area where Israel, Lebanon and Syria intersect.

A Hezbollah spokesman said the attacks were in retaliation for what the group called an assassination of one of its members by Israel.

A Lebanese driver for the Iranian Embassy in Beirut and a passenger died Saturday when their car exploded in a southern section of the city, police said.

The other man in the vehicle worked for a former Hezbollah member, police said.

Hezbollah last attacked the Shebaa Farms area in January.

Hezbollah, based in Lebanon, waged an 18-year campaign against Israel's occupation of southern Lebanon, which Israel had seized as a self-declared security zone.

Israel withdrew from Lebanon three years ago but maintains a heavy military presence on Israel's northern frontier.

The militant group is blamed for anti-Western and anti-Israeli terrorist acts dating from the early 1980s and is on the U.S. State Department's list of terrorist organizations.

In Washington, the State Department called for restraint Friday from Lebanon and Syria in the wake of the Hezbollah attacks, and urged for a return to calm along the border with Israel.

"We have made clear our concerns [about] this calculated and provocative escalation by Hezbollah," State Department Deputy spokesman Philip Reeker said. He added that officials at U.S. embassies in Beirut and Damascus have "stressed the importance of maintaining restraint to prevent future attacks."

Reeker said it was "unfortunate" that the attacks took place a week after the United Nations commended both countries for their contributions to keeping the border area calm.

CNN State Department producer Elise Labott contributed to this report.


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