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Israeli Captain Killed During West Bank Raid
VOA News
29 May 2004, 11:39 UTC

An Israeli army captain has been killed during a clash with Palestinian militants in a West Bank refugee camp.

Witnesses said violence erupted early Saturday as Israeli troops raided the Balata refugee camp, on the edge of Nablus. The Israeli officer was shot as he led a team of soldiers searching homes in the camp for militants suspected of planning attacks against Israel.

The radical al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a militant group linked to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for the killing.

Reuters quotes an al-Aqsa commander as saying the attack on the Israeli patrol was revenge for an Israeli assault in Gaza earlier this month that killed more than 40 people in Rafah.

In Gaza, Israeli forces said they shot and killed a suspected Palestinian militant overnight near the border fence between Israel and the Palestinian territory. Two explosive devices reportedly were found near the man's body.

The latest violence comes as Israeli Cabinet members prepare to debate Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to withdraw troops from the Gaza Strip. The proposal calls for a phased withdrawal from Gaza, and comes after Mr. Sharon's Likud party earlier this month turned down a plan for a rapid pullout.

The revised plan calls for the demolition of Israeli settlers' homes after they have been evacuated.

Hard-line members of Mr. Sharon's Cabinet oppose his plan, and it is not clear whether the prime minister will have the support of a majority of the 23 ministers.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.

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