Three Palestinians killed as Israeli offensive continues

Israeli soldiers have killed three Palestinian gunmen in the old city of Nablus as the week-old "anti-terror" offensive continues in the all the major cities on the Palestinian West Bank.

Israeli soldiers have killed three Palestinian gunmen in the old city of Nablus as the week-old "anti-terror" offensive continues in the all the major cities on the Palestinian West Bank.

Witnesses said Israeli troops were prevented from entering the old city or the nearby Balata and Askar refugee camps because of fierce resistance from Palestinian residents.

Doctors in Nablus also opened a makeshift hospital in a mosque because, they said, Israeli soldiers were preventing ambulances from taking wounded people to hospital.

Meanwhile, Israeli Radio reported today that 70 Palestinians have been killed in the Jenin refugee camp since Tuesday. Three Israeli soldiers were also killed in Jenin and one in Hebron in fighting yesterday and last night.

The continuing violence in the Middle East and the ongoing Israeli invasion of Palestinian land suggest that the latest US efforts to secure a ceasefire could, like previous attempts, be already doomed to failure.

Yesterday, US President George W Bush blamed Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for the current situation, but he also called on Israel to stop punishing and humiliating Palestinian civilians.

Mr Bush has decided to send his Secretary of State, Colin Powell, to the region for talks with Israeli, Palestinian, Jordanian, Egyptian and Saudi Arabian leaders.

Mr Bush hopes Powell can get both sides back to negotiations that will eventually lead to a complete Israeli withdrawal from the lands it seized in the 1967 Six Days war.

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