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Israeli Forces Kill Palestinians In Response to Suicide Attack

By Daniel Williams
THE WASHINGTON POST -- ramallah

Israeli forces shelled a pickup truck carrying a Palestinian militant’s wife and three children through Ramallah Monday, killing the four family members and two unrelated Palestinian children in a passing car.

The attack was the deadliest of a day of bloodshed in which Israeli soldiers killed more than 16 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip -- including a physician overseeing efforts to rescue the wounded in a refugee camp -- following Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s latest vow to step up attacks on Palestinians.

The Israeli leader issued his pledge in response to a suicide bombing that killed nine civilians Saturday evening in Jerusalem and a sniper attack that killed seven Israeli soldiers and three Jewish settlers north of Ramallah on Sunday.

Those attacks were retaliation for Israeli assaults last week on two West Bank Palestinian refugee camps in which nearly 30 people died -- part of the cycle of killings and revenge that has made the last 10 days among the bloodiest in more than 17 months of a Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

Sharon told the Israeli parliament that the country “is in a bitter war against a cruel and bloodthirsty enemy. We are in a war over our home and the war is horrible. But we will win.”

He told reporters in Jerusalem later that “the aim (of the latest Israeli attacks) is to increase the number of losses on the other side. Only after they have been battered will we be able to conduct talks.”

At a meeting of the foreign affairs and defense committee, he detailed plans to set up buffer zones inside the West Bank and Gaza along the pre-1967 borders with Israel proper, according to Israel government radio. Sharon described the project as a means to curb attacks inside Israel by preventing Palestinian militants from entering Israeli territory.

The project would require confiscation of more territory in Gaza and the West Bank. The Israeli government has already claimed more than half of the West Bank as “state lands.” The three-mile-wide buffer zone in the West Bank would also effectively annex several Palestinian hamlets.

The Israeli army said Monday’s killings in Ramallah were a mistake and expressed “deep regret” over the deaths of the woman and the five children.