Nine Israelis killed in ambush

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The Independent Online

Palestinian gunmen opened fire today on Israeli soldiers and civilian cars at an army checkpoint in the West Bank, killing nine people and wounding two seriously.

The attack came just 12 hours after a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowded ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem Saturday evening, killing nine Israelis, including several children.

The Al Aqsa Brigades, a militia linked to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for Saturday's bombing and Sunday's shooting.

The militia ? which has said it would take revenge for Israel's assault last week on the West Bank refugee camps of Balata and Jenin, in which 23 Palestinians were killed over a three-day period ? circulated a leaflet saying Sunday's shooting was in response to Israeli army actions in the two camps.

Israel condemned the latest violence, blamed Arafat and promised reprisals.

"It seems as that Arafat has given all the so-called organizations a green light to kill and attack right now," said Foreign Ministry official Arie Mekel. "It seems they are waging a war of terror against us, murder for the sake of murder ... This will force us to act accordingly."

Today's attack took place at an Israeli army roadblock near the Palestinian village of Silwad and the Jewish settlement of Ofra. Seven of the dead were soldiers and two civilians, paramedic Hezi Tsur told Israel radio.