In a separate development the army acknowledged last night after an internal investigation that the killings of four Israel Arabs by an extreme right-wing army deserter earlier this month had exposed "gaps and deficiencies" in contacts between intelligence and the Israel Defence Forces.
While insisting that a better flow of information would probably not have prevented the killings in Shfaram, the report said that information about the extremist Eden Natan Zada had not been "analysed correctly". The killer's desertion with an M-16 rifle was not fully reported by the army to the intelligence agency Shin Bet.
The Palestinians were shot dead in Tulkarum after a military undercover unit went into a café with the aim of arresting two wanted Islamic Jihad militants. The army said the unit came under fire from two directions.
The White House spokesman Trent Duffy said: "We always denounce any violence and we urge both sides to exercise calm."
The Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, urged the armed factions "not to respond to provocations by Israel so as not to give it a pretext to escalate its aggression ... and avoid implementation of commitments under the road map."
Palestinian witnesses said three of the dead men were unarmed teenagers with no known record of activity in the armed factions, while two others were respectively members of the Fatah-linked al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and of Islamic Jihad. Israeli security sources said that all five were part of the "Islamic Jihad terrorist infrastructure".Reuse content