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Israel: Palestinian gunmen kill 6 Israelis

IDF: Three Palestinian militants killed in gunbattle


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Emergency crews arrive at a checkpoint in northern Gaza after a bombing Thursday.
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GAZA CITY (CNN) -- Three Palestinian militants blew a hole through a door at the Karni crossing that separates Israel and northern Gaza, stormed into the Israeli side and opened fire in an attack that killed six Israeli civilians and wounded five others, according to an Israel Defense Forces statement.

The three militants were also killed in the subsequent exchanges of fire at the Karni Terminal, a major commercial crossing between Israel and Gaza, according to the IDF.

Palestinian security sources said two militants died.

Two of the wounded Israelis were in serious condition, the IDF said.

Three Palestinian militant groups -- Hamas, the Popular Resistance and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades -- claimed responsibility for what they said was a joint attack.

Hamas is a Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist organization whose military wing has admitted to terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians. Israel and the U.S. State Department consider it a terrorist organization.

Al Aqsa is a secular, militant offshoot of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement. The group has attacked military targets and civilians in Israel, and in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza.

Military sources said Israeli aircraft struck a building in the Deir el-Balah refugee camp in central Gaza after the bombing. There was no immediate report of casualties from that attack.

The violence came three days after election officials declared Mahmoud Abbas the winner of the Palestinian Authority's presidential vote, positioning him to succeed Arafat in a new era that could lead to an independent Palestinian state. (Full story)

However, Abbas faces tremendous challenges as the new Palestinian leader, including continued violence and the stalled Mideast peace process.

The former Palestinian prime minister said during the campaign that he wanted to meet soon with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to discuss resuming peace negotiations.

Sharon has outlined a disengagement plan under which all 21 Jewish settlements in Gaza, as well as the Israeli military forces deployed to defend them, would be evacuated. Four small settlements in the northern West Bank would also be evacuated. (Full story)

On Monday, Israel's parliament narrowly approved a new governing coalition that favors Sharon's disengagement plan.


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