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Change Ordered in West Bank Barrier

"We were not convinced that it is necessary for security-military reasons to retain the current route that passes on Bilin's lands," Chief Justice Dorit Beinish wrote. Bilin is 6 miles west of Ramallah, just inside the West Bank.

The judges ordered the government to come up with a new route in a "reasonable period of time."

The Israeli Defense Ministry, which has overseen construction of the barrier, said in a statement that it would "study the ruling and respect it."

Also Tuesday, Israel was considering how to respond to daily rocket barrages from Gaza that have disrupted life in towns and villages in southern Israel. A rocket exploded next to a nursery school on Monday.

Vice Premier Haim Ramon called for cutting off vital supplies to Gaza as punishment for the green light Hamas has given Islamic Jihad and other militant groups to carry out the attacks.

"We won't continue to supply oxygen (to Gaza) in the form of electricity, fuel and water when they are trying to kill our children," Ramon told Army Radio.

Cutoffs would disrupt life in Gaza, but would also likely draw international condemnation.

At a West Bank news conference, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas denounced the rocket attacks "because these actions harm peace and the peace process." Abbas and his Fatah movement are in a power struggle with Hamas, which overran the Gaza Strip in June.

In Gaza, the Hamas rulers on Tuesday issued a ban on public prayers _ aimed at stopping Fatah demonstrations after prayers on Friday, the Muslim Sabbath.

Israel let more than 150 Palestinians stranded in Gaza cross through Israeli territory Tuesday to reach jobs and studies in Egypt and other countries. It was the largest group to be allowed out since Israel sealed Gaza's borders in response to the Hamas takeover.

In the West Bank, Israeli forces shot an 8-year-old Palestinian boy in the head with a rubber-coated bullet, seriously wounding him, Palestinian hospital officials said. The military said troops encountered rioters throwing rocks, and soldiers fired rubber-coated bullets in response.


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© 2007 The Associated Press