Israeli Troops Kill 3 Palestinians

The Associated Press
Friday, October 27, 2006; 5:06 PM

NABLUS, West Bank -- Israeli troops killed three Palestinians in West Bank clashes on Friday, medics and relatives said.

In the refugee camp of Al Faraa, Saadi Subuh, 23, and Mustafa Abu Zalat, 17, were shot and killed, their relatives and medics said. The circumstances of shooting were not clear, but Abu Zalat's uncle said his nephew might have been throwing stones at army jeeps at the time.

In the village of Yamoun, Ahmed Abul Hassan, 28, was shot and killed while he stood on the roof of his home. Relatives said he had gone up there to watch the army raid and was hit in the head by a bullet. Two of Abul Hassan's brothers were wounded, the family said.

But later, the Islamic Jihad militant group issued a statement in the Gaza Strip saying Abul Hassan was a member who died in a gunbattle with the Israelis.

The army said both incidents were provoked by Palestinian militants. In Al Faraa, it said troops opened fire on Palestinians who approached them with a handgun and an ax. The gunman was killed, while the man with the ax was wounded in the leg and taken to an Israeli hospital, the army said.

It said troops in Yamoun had opened fire on a group of armed Palestinians, hitting at least two.

In the Gaza Strip, meanwhile, an Israeli airstrike overnight destroyed a home in the Jebaliya refugee camp. The army said the building was used to store weapons.

The army ordered the buildings occupants to evacuate shortly before the airstrike. There were no casualties reported.

Israel has been conducting an offensive in Gaza since Hamas-linked militants tunneled into Israel and captured a soldier on June 25. More than 200 Palestinians have been killed, most of them militants. Despite the crackdown, the Israeli soldier, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, remains in captivity.

The London-based Arab daily al-Hayat reported Friday that Egyptian mediators are making progress in arranging a deal to swap Shalit for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

The report said Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, who lives in exile in Syria, is expected in Cairo next week to discuss the deal.

In the Syrian capital of Damascus, Moussa Abu Marzouk, a top Hamas official, denied the report.

"There is no official invitation to Cairo. There is no one heading to Cairo now," he told The Associated Press.

Israeli officials also said they were unaware of any progress in efforts to win Shalit's release.

Also on Friday, an Israeli Arab man was kidnapped and his wife was shot near the main passenger crossing from the Gaza Strip to Israel, Palestinian security officials said.

The man, Riyadh al-Louh, and his wife, Khatima al-Louh, were returning from a family visit in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya when unidentified gunmen fired at them. Khatima al-Louh was shot in the foot and slightly injured, and Riyadh al-Louh was abducted, officials said.

The kidnapping appeared to have been related to a family feud, security officials said. But they declined to provide further details.

© 2006 The Associated Press