- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 29, 2002

From combined dispatches
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip A 9-year-old Palestinian girl was shot dead by Israeli troops yesterday in the Khan Younis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical and security officials said.
Hanin Abu Suleiman was hit in the head by a bullet fired from an Israeli position close to the Gush Katif Jewish settlement as she stood outside her house, the officials said.
In the West Bank city of Hebron, Israeli troops destroyed the homes of two Palestinian militants a day after gunmen killed four seminary students at a nearby Jewish settlement, military sources said.
The militant group Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for Friday's attack on the settlement of Otniel, saying it wanted to avenge Israel's killing of eight Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip last Wednesday and Thursday.
Two of the four dead seminary students were unarmed, off-duty soldiers, participating in a program that lets religious Israelis study as part of their military service, an army spokesman said.
An army statement said their attackers were dressed in Israeli army uniforms, armed with M-16 rifles and carried a large quantity of magazines.
Yesterday, the army said it razed the homes of two militants on the outskirts of Hebron but said the owners of the homes had nothing to do with the Otniel attack.
Palestinian witnesses said one of the homes belonged to a member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, a militant group affiliated with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction, and the second was owned by a militant from Islamic Jihad.
Islamic Jihad has carried out many attacks against Israelis since a Palestinian uprising began when peace talks failed in September 2000.
Palestinians and human rights groups denounce house demolitions as collective punishment. Israel says they are necessary to deter suicide attacks.
Palestinian militants often target Jewish settlements in their fight for statehood and against Israeli occupation in parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The international community says the settlements are illegal. Israel disputes this.
Islamic militants in Gaza City pledged to continue their attacks.
"They should not feel safe," Hamas spiritual leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin said of Israelis at a Friday rally marking the 15th anniversary of the founding of the group, responsible for dozens of suicide bombings since the start of the Palestinian uprising.


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