JERUSALEM – Israeli troops shot to death a Palestinian child in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, Palestinian medical workers said, while in the West Bank soldiers clashed with Palestinian university students.
The unrest came a day after four Israelis died in a Palestinian attack on Jewish seminary students.
Palestinians said 9-year-old Hanneen Abu Suleiman was shot in the head outside her home in the Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis when troops opened fire from a Jewish settlement a few hundred yards away.
An Israeli military source said a preliminary enquiry showed that troops at a nearby army outpost came under Palestinian fire from the direction of the graveyard. The soldiers fired back but were unable to verify hitting anyone, the source said. Palestinians had said earlier there was no fighting when the child was shot.
Earlier, Israeli troops clashed with Palestinian university students during an operation near Bethlehem University. A military source said troops came under attack by students throwing stones from inside the college. Soldiers responded by firing rubber bullets and stun grenades into the building, the source said. No injuries were reported.
Also Saturday, Israeli troops blew up the house of an Islamic Jihad member in Doura, a village near Otniel, the West Bank settlement targeted in the seminary attack. The military would not say if the militant, who was not at home at the time, was suspected in the seminary attack.
In the same village, troops also demolished the home of a militant from Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement who was shot to death by soldiers last year.
On Friday, two Palestinians disguised as Israeli soldiers burst into Otniel and opened fire on Jewish seminary students at a Sabbath dinner. The gunmen killed four Israelis and wounded eight. The rampage also left the two gunmen dead.
The militant Islamic Jihad group claimed responsibility, saying it was avenging the killing of one of its leaders by Israeli soldiers a day earlier.
Friday's attack came a day after Israeli troops killed nine Palestinians in raids, ending a relative lull in the fighting that lasted almost one month.
The large death toll raised concerns that the escalation of violence could have an impact on Israel's Jan. 28 election by boosting the chances of the hard-liners. In the past, Israelis anxious about their security have tended to support the hawks in times of crisis.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Likud party is currrently ahead in the polls, but his advantage has been slipping because of a police investigation of alleged vote-buying in recent internal party elections.
The gunmen -- dressed in Israeli army uniforms and armed with M-16 assault rifles -- burst into the kitchen of the settlement's seminary and started shooting, witness Yehuda Glick told Israeli radio on Saturday.
Three students working in the kitchen were immediately killed, he said. Their supervisor locked the door connecting the kitchen to the dining hall, preventing further fatalities, but paying the price with his own life.
"He met his death in the passageway between the kitchen and the dining hall. He was killed on the spot," Glick said.
The attackers then tried to break down the locked door, he said. Unable to do so, they fired through the window, wounding eight more people.
Two of the dead Israelis were off-duty soldiers, an army statement said Saturday.
Troops shot and killed one attacker behind a nearby building as he tried to escape, the army said. Soldiers killed the other gunman after chasing him through surrounding hills.
"The attack on Otniel ... is the direct result of the incitement going on in the territories by the Palestinian Authority," said Israeli government spokesman Avi Pazner.
Troops imposed a curfew on nearby Hebron and searched surrounding villages for possible accomplices.
An Islamic Jihad spokesman in Damascus told the Qatar-based TV satellite station Al Jazeera that the group attacked Otniel to avenge Thursday's killing of Hamza Abu Roub, a militia leader in the West Bank town of Jenin.
"This is not new for the Israeli government to blame others for their own mistakes," said Palestinian Cabinet Minister Saeb Erekat. "Every time they deny the fact that ... that by this continuous policy of assassination they are calling for a Palestinian response and counter-violence."
In 26 months of fighting, 2,017 people have been killed on the Palestinian side and 689 on the Israeli.
In Jerusalem, a crude car bomb went off early Saturday not far from a bar popular among young people but caused no injuries, rescue workers said. A suspect was in police custody.
Also Saturday, about 150 armed and masked men marched through a refugee camp in the West Bank town of Nablus firing their AK-47s into the air. The men, belonging to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades -- a militia linked to Arafat's Fatah faction -- vowed to continue fighting against Israel.
"Every one of these men is ready to be a human bomb and blow up himself for the sake of freedom," one of the masked men told reporters.
On Friday another Islamic militant group, Hamas, announced it would not halt bombings and shootings, despite its participation in Egyptian-led cease-fire talks in Cairo.
However, a source close to the truce talks told The Associated Press this week that both Hamas and Islamic Jihad promised the Egyptians to halt attacks in Israel. Several officials in Arafat's Fatah movement also said the militants were sending conciliatory signals.