Shootout near the West Bank: Palestinian man and an Israeli soldier were killed

A Palestinian man and an Israeli soldier were killed early Monday in a shootout during an Israeli military operation near the West Bank city of Tulkarem, a spokeswoman for the &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Israel Defense Forces said.

The IDF spokeswoman said the Israeli army was conducting an operation in a village north of Tulkarem -- a village still under Israeli security control -- to arrest a wanted Palestinian militant.

The Israeli forces were fired on, the spokeswoman said, and one Palestinian and one Israeli soldier were killed in the resulting exchange of gunfire. One other Israeli soldier was wounded, she added.

Israeli security sources identified the Palestinian killed as Shafik Adel Mustafa Aani, 38, a senior &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Islamic Jihad militant who was involved in organizing a suicide bombing that killed five Israelis at a nightclub in Tel Aviv Feb. 25. At least 49 Israelis were wounded in the attack, publishes CNN News.

he last time Israeli troops killed a militant was during an April 14 raid on the West Bank city of Nablus.

Tulkarm was one of two West Bank cities handed over to Palestinian Authority security control. On Sunday, the army said it captured an Islamic Jihad member near the city who had planned to carry out a suicide bombing.

The ceasefire has raised hopes for a revival of Middle East peace negotiations, but Abbas has resisted Israeli calls to crack down on militant groups and said he prefers to use persuasion instead.

Any resurgence of violence could complicate Israel's plan to withdraw from the occupied Gaza Strip and a corner of the West Bank this summer in a bid to "disengage" from the conflict.

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