- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 1, 2003

GAZA, Jan. 2 (UPI) — The New Year in the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza began Wednesday as the old one had ended — with violence.

Israeli soldiers shot and killed three Palestinians Wednesday evening as they approached the Jewish settlements of Alei Sinai and Dugit in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, Palestinian radio reported.

In the Israeli army version quoted by the radio, the three were spotted by a patrol in a no-go area for Palestinians. The patrol opened fire on the three and killed them.

Meanwhile, a would-be Palestinian suicide bomber with explosives attached to his body was blown up near the West Bank town of Nablus when gunfire from Israeli soldiers set off the explosives.

Palestinian eyewitnesses said it happened near two Jewish settlements in the Nablus area. Palestinian radio said one of the settlements was probably the bomber’s target.

When the soldiers fired at him, eyewitnesses said, there was a huge explosion.

Meanwhile, from his cell in an Israeli prison Fatah Secretary-General Marwan Barghouti Wednesday called on Palestinians to escalate the intifada, or uprising, and increase attacks against Jewish settlers.

Barghouti was detained in April and accused of organizing the militant al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement. In a letter addressed to local and foreign media, Barghouti called upon all Palestinians “to look on the year 2003 (as) the year of the collapse of the Israeli occupation.”

Al Aqsa has claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks on Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and for several suicide bombings inside Israel. The group issued its own statement Wednesday saying it “will never surrender and never stop its armed attacks against the Israeli occupation.”

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