Israeli tanks open fire in Jenin; four Palestinians killed

NABLUS, West Bank, AP

Israeli tanks opened Friday in the northern West Bank town of Jenin, killing four Palestinians, including three children in what the Israeli army said appeared to be an error made by soldiers who fired on Palestinians breaking curfew.

Palestinian residents said they’d heard Israel had lifted the 3-day old curfew, and some witnesses said the market already had grown crowded with people replenishing supplies. Several hours earlier, Palestinian gunmen seized a house in a Jewish West Bank settlement, killing a woman and her three sons before soldiers stormed the house.

On Friday, residents of the settlement returning from funerals for the victims killed a Palestinian during a rampage in the nearby Palestinian village of Hawara, shooting randomly in the streets and burning cars and a home, villagers and a hospital official said.

Israeli police said they knew of a wounded Palestinian in the area but were checking the circumstances and on reports of a settler rampage. Ohsam Johari, director of the Nablus government hospital, said Adnan Odeh, 22, died of a gunshot to the chest.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon convened his Security Cabinet of senior ministers on Friday to discuss how to proceed after four days of Palestinian suicide bombings, settlement infiltrations, Israeli military retaliation and other violence that has left 33 Israelis and 12 Palestinians dead. In a major policy shift earlier this week, Israel decided its troops would gradually reoccupy Palestinian until terror stops.

In line with the new policy, about 50 Israeli tanks entered Nablus, the West Bank’s largest city, after the Thursday night attack in nearby Itamar settlement attack.

Israeli forces had settled into Jenin, imposing a curfew, after 19 Israelis were killed Tuesday in the deadliest suicide bombing in Jerusalem in six years.

Palestinian security and hospital officials said tanks fired shells and Israeli soldiers fired with machine guns on Jenin residents in two market streets and a nearby neighborhood, killing four people and wounding 24, including many children.

Word had spread among Palestinians the curfew was being lifted from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. so people could replenish supplies. The army said the curfew had not been lifted.