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Israeli Troops Kill Palestinian Militia Activist

Israeli soldiers shot and killed Walid Sbeh, a prominent figure in a Palestinian militia in the Bethlehem area, witnesses and the Israeli military said Monday.

Palestinians said Sbeh was killed Monday in his car in El Khader, near Bethlehem, as he was leaving the village. Soldiers opened fire from an army base on a nearby hill, they said.

Sbeh was an activist in the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militia affiliated with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement.

Israeli military sources confirmed that Sbeh had been targeted and shot. The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the 29-year-old Sbeh was responsible for sending Palestinian homicide bombers into Israel. Three of the would-be bombers were arrested and implicated Sbeh, the sources said.

In more than 20 months of Palestinian-Israeli violence, Israel has killed dozens of Palestinian militants. The Israelis say they are moving against terrorists, but Palestinians charge the operations are aimed at assassinating their leadership.