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Israel forces raid Gaza camps

Gaza, Jan. 2 (Reuters): Israeli forces backed by helicopter gunships swooped on three Gaza refugee camps today after killing four Palestinians who the army said were on their way to attack Jewish settlements.

In a separate incident, police said they killed an armed Palestinian who broke into a home in the Israeli village of Maor, 5 km from the West Bank. An Israeli couple in the house escaped when the intruder’s rifle jammed.

The army said it sent infantry and armour backed by assault helicopters, into the Nusairat, Bureij and Maghazi refugee camps in the central Gaza Strip. The raids lasted several hours. The camps are strongholds of Palestinian militants who have waged a campaign of suicide bombings and ambush shootings as part of an uprising for a Palestinian state.

Ambulance workers said several Palestinians were wounded.

Palestinians obtained self-rule in parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip under interim peace deals in 1994-95 but negotiations on a state broke down in mid-2000.

The fresh violence disregarded US calls for calm in the 27-month-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict to avoid complicating Washington’s plans for a possible war on Iraq.

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