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Israeli Strike Kills Two Militants in Northern Gaza

08 December 2005

Three Palestinian militants and an Israeli have been killed in a fresh wave of violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israel has suspended the latest round of negotiations.

Israeli warplanes and artillery pounded Palestinian militant targets in Gaza in response to rocket attacks across the border. One air strike killed two armed militants from the al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, a State Department designated terrorist group.

The rocket attacks were in retaliation for Israel's killing of a senior militant in an air strike Wednesday. Israel resumed its controversial assassination policy after a suicide bomber killed five Israelis in the coastal town of Netanya on Monday.

"And I know of no country that will tolerate these kind of attacks, and therefore, you can expect a very harsh response to this attack, which [represents] a marked escalation on the part of the terrorist organizations," said Israeli government spokesman Ra'anan Gissin.

Israel also suspended talks to open a road link between Gaza and the West Bank for the first time in nearly five years. The so-called "safe passage" route was scheduled to open next week under an agreement mediated by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Israel said there is nothing to talk about until the Palestinians keep their commitment under the internationally-backed "road map" peace plan and disarm militant groups.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said freezing the talks is a "flagrant violation" of an international accord.

"I honestly cannot comprehend because we have a written agreement with them not to do that," he said.

In the West Bank, a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli in the neck and killed him at an army checkpoint. With the escalating violence, the 10-month-old cease-fire is unraveling.

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