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Six Palestinians, Israeli soldier killed

Six Palestinians were killed, and two Israelis were wounded and one killed Saturday in West Bank and Gaza Strip violence, the army and Palestinian sources said.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Six Palestinians, including a 14-year-old boy, were killed, and two Israelis were wounded and one killed Saturday in West Bank and Gaza Strip violence, the army and Palestinian sources said.

Israeli soldiers shot and killed Ala Samara, 14, during a clash in the West Bank town of Jenin. Samara was unarmed and was standing near a group of stone-throwing youths when troops shot him, Palestinian residents and hospital officials said.

Israeli military officials said the youths threw a firebomb at the troops, and soldiers fired at a youth who was about to throw a second firebomb.

The latest violence erupted as Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, 75, remained in a hospital outside Paris fighting for his life from an undisclosed ailment.

On Sunday, an Israeli newspaper reported that Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia asked the Islamic militant group Hamas to halt operations inside Israel to forestall Israeli retaliations and allow a new Palestinian leadership to establish itself.

During a rare meeting with Qureia in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, Hamas joined a call for unity and demanded a role in Palestinian decision-making in the post-Arafat era.

Israel has been operating in Jenin, located in the northern West Bank, for two weeks, in search of weapons and Palestinian militants.

Israeli caught in friendly fire?
Later Saturday, an Israeli soldier died after a group of soldiers came under fire, apparently from another group of Israeli soldiers, an army spokesman said. Earlier the military had said the soldiers came under fire from militants. The army was investigation the apparent friendly fire incident.

In Gaza, Israeli soldiers shot and killed two Islamic Jihad militants who tried to infiltrate a Gaza Strip settlement early Saturday.

The militants, armed with explosives and machine guns, crossed through an unauthorized area and approached the Gadid settlement in the southern Gaza Strip, the army said.

A shootout erupted between the troops and the militants. An Israeli aircraft fired a missile at the militants, killing them, the army said.

Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attempted infiltration. The group said a third fighter escaped.

In the West Bank town of Qalqiliya, two Palestinian militants were killed and a third was seriously wounded when their car exploded.

The men were members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, a violent group linked to Arafat’s Fatah group, residents said.

During four years of fighting, many militants have died accidentally while preparing attacks on Israel.

Israeli military sources told The Associated Press that troops were not in the area at the time of the explosion.