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4 Palestinians shot dead

March 14, 2003

JENIN, March 13: Four Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli troops on Thursday during fierce clashes in the northern West Bank, Palestinian security and Israeli military sources said.

The Palestinians said the men had been shot dead during heavy clashes that broke out as Israeli troops pushed into the town of Tammun, some 20km south of Jenin. That was confirmed by an Israeli military source.

ISRAELI ARMY: Israeli soldiers and a helicopter gunship shot dead two Israeli armed guards in the West Bank on Thursday after mistaking them for Palestinians, the army said.

It said the friendly fire incident — which drew criticism from Israel’s leading human rights group — began when troops at Pnei Hever settlement, southeast of the city of Al Khalil, spotted a suspicious vehicle approaching from around a nearby hill.

“The unit ordered the car to stop, and after identifying the occupant as armed, shot and killed him,” an army statement said. “After hearing the gunfire, a second armed man ran off (from the hill). He was shot dead by a helicopter gunship.”

The army said its troops had been on high alert for an attack by Palestinians, who have carried out a spate of shootings in the area over recent days, including the killing of two Jewish settlers and a soldier.

Palestinians waging a 29-month-old uprising for statehood have often accused Israeli soldiers of being trigger-happy at checkpoints and roadblocks in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.—AFP/Reuters