Israeli army kills 3 Palestinian militants

Israeli soldiers killed three armed Palestinian militants near the West Bank town of Jenin on Thursday, a Palestinian security source said.

The confrontations erupted during an Israeli incursion overnight, apparently to arrest gunmen in the occupied territory and as Israel continued air raids against militant targets in the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli army said troops opened fire on two gunmen who attempted to shoot at them near the village of Burqin, both wanted members of Islamic Jihad. Palestinian witnesses said the gunmen had hid in an olive tree when Israeli troops shot them.

In Jenin, the troops exchanged fire with a gunman during an arrest raid, killing him. Palestinian sources said the gunman was a member of the al-Aqsa Brigades, an armed wing of the mainstream Fatah movement.

Soldiers also arrested 12 suspected militants in raids conducted in the Jenin, Nablus and Bethlehem areas of the West Bank, the Israeli army said.

In the Gaza Strip, meanwhile, Palestinian police blew up the largest synagogue building of the demolished Neve Dekalim settlement, planting explosives then detonating them, which destroyed the building, witnesses said, reports Reuters.

According to The New York Times, Israel killed four members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in missile attacks in Gaza on Saturday and Sunday. But for the past three days, the Palestinians have not reported any serious injuries.

[But Palestinian security officials said Thursday morning that Israeli soldiers had shot dead three Palestinian militants overnight near the West Bank town of Jenin, Reuters reported.]

Israel says that after the Gaza pullout, it will not tolerate any rocket fire coming out of Gaza into Israel.

"We plan to continue this operation for as long as it takes, as long as the threat and the Qassams continue and until the Palestinian Authority takes complete and actual responsibility throughout the grounds," Maj. Gen. Yisrael Ziv, the army's chief of operations, told Israel radio.

Under pressure from Mr. Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, 13 Palestinian factions pledged on Tuesday to halt attacks on Israel from Gaza. No such attacks were reported on Wednesday, the Israeli military said.

Mr. Abbas has been critical of Hamas and other Palestinian factions for the recent attacks, and he noted that the armed groups agreed among themselves to refrain from firing at Israel in talks held six months ago.

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