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Six Palestinians dead in violence with Israel

Israel killed six Palestinians ? three in the Gaza Strip and three in the occupied West Bank ? in one of the worst days of violence in months.

GAZA // Israel killed six Palestinians today ? three in the Gaza Strip and three in the occupied West Bank ? in one of the worst days of violence in months, Israeli military sources and Palestinian medics said. An Israeli military spokeswoman said three Palestinians were killed in an air strike and ground fire on suspicion they were trying to infiltrate from Gaza. Palestinian medics and witnesses said three militants died in a confrontation in the West Bank.

The three Palestinians killed in the west bank town of Nablus were from the Western-backed president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah party, a Palestinian security official said. One of the men, Anan Subuh, was a member of Fatah's armed wing, the al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, but had been granted amnesty by Israel. The other two men were party activists, according to the official. The official insisted that none of them was wanted by Israel, and both the official and witnesses said none of the three had resisted arrest or fired on Israeli troops. A woman was wounded during the operation, medics said.

The Israeli army declined to confirm or deny the reports when contacted by AFP. three other Palestinians were killed as they tried to cross the security barrier from the Gaza Strip into Israel on Saturday, a Palestinian medic said. A fourth Palestinian was wounded during the attempt to cross into Israel near the Erez border crossing, he added. An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed the strike, saying the men appeared to be trying to carry out an attack.

"Soldiers spotted the silhouettes of several men who were crawling towards the security fence and fired warning shots which were ignored," she said. "An air force unit opened fire on them, and then discovered evidence on the ground that proved they wanted to carry out a terrorist attack," she added. Gaza's borders have been mostly calm since January 18, when a ceasefire brought an end to a massive Israeli offensive aimed at halting rocket fire from the territory ruled by the Islamist Hamas movement.

* Reuters and AFP

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