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8 Palestinians, One Israeli Killed in West Bank Clashes - 2002-02-28


At least eight Palestinians and one Israeli soldier have been killed during raids by Israeli forces in the West Bank.

Clashes erupted early today (Thursday) when Israeli troops entered the Balata refugee camp near Nablus and moved against Palestinian security checkpoints north of Jenin.

Palestinian officials say two men - one of them a suspected militant - were killed, and 15 people were wounded, in a gunbattle with Israeli soldiers in the refugee camp. The Israeli army said one soldier was killed and two were wounded.

In Jenin, Palestinians say at least six policemen were killed when Israeli forces raided two separate areas around the Palestinian-controlled town.

The incidents follow an attack Wednesday by a female Palestinian suicide bomber that wounded at least three Israeli policemen at an Israeli military roadblock in the West Bank.

Israeli officials say the woman blew herself up at a checkpoint near the Jewish settlement of Maccabim. Two passengers in her car were seriously wounded in the blast.

Meanwhile, in Cairo, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak held talks with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who is touring the region to discuss Saudi Middle East peace proposals.

Mr. Solana says he plans to travel to Washington next week to discuss the Saudi initiative.

The Saudi proposals would offer Israel full normalization of relations in return for full withdrawal from all the occupied territories, captured in the 1967 war. Many world leaders have praised the Saudi initiative as a possible way to end nearly 18 months of Israeli-Palestinian bloodshed.

Crown Prince Abdullah - who is Saudi Arabia's de-facto ruler, is said to be preparing to present his proposals at the Arab League summit in Beirut in late March.

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