Sharon gave his military a free hand against militants in Gaza

The leadership of the &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Palestine Liberation Organization has urged militants to end attacks against Israel, saying such violence "harms our national interest."

The PLO executive committee made the appeal Sunday just hours after Israeli Prime Minister &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Ariel Sharon gave his military a free hand against militant groups in Gaza. Mr. Sharon accused newly-elected Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of doing nothing to curb attacks on Israelis.

The PLO statement said violence by militant groups gives Israel an excuse to obstruct Palestinian stability, says Voice of America.

According to the Australian News, a Palestinian woman and her son were killed by Israeli fire in their house in the south of the &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Gaza Strip, medical sources said today.

Fada Aram, 45, and her son Abdullah, 28, were killed when a tank shell exploded. Her husband Suleiman was wounded.

The deaths take the number of people killed since the start of the intifada in September 2000 to 4706, including 3652 Palestinians and 979 Israelis.

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