JERUSALEM – Israeli troops killed five Palestinians, one of them an elderly woman, and two Palestinians infiltrated an army base early Thursday in the West Bank and attacked soldiers.
The Israeli military operations came as Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was conducting negotiations to form a new government on Wednesday, possibly a hawkish team that would crack down even harder on the Palestinians.
An Israeli helicopter firing a machine gun killed two Palestinians at the eastern edge of Gaza City early Thursday, across from an Israeli village, Palestinians said. Militants often set up rockets there to fire at the village, Nahal Oz, just outside Gaza. Doctors said the two men, in their 20s, were working at a nearby home for the aged.
Israeli military sources said that during an operation in Gaza, helicopters fired at open spaces to deter attackers, and they were not aware of anyone being hit.
In the West Bank, also on Thursday, two infiltrators slipped into an Israeli army base on Mt. Gerizim, overlooking the city of Nablus, and carried out an attack. Palestinians who live nearby said one of the militants came from the radical Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the other was an activist in the militant Islamic Hamas.
There was no immediate word on casualties.
On Wednesday, in Nablus, troops shot dead an 18-year-old, one of a crowd that attacked troops searching for wanted Palestinians. The military said the youth fired at soldiers, but Palestinians said he was throwing rocks at them.
In Qalqiliya, Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian policeman and a second man was wounded as the army conducted a search operation.
Palestinian officials and residents said 10 Israeli jeeps entered the town before dawn Wednesday and fired on unarmed Palestinian police. The army said soldiers shot at the police when they tried to flee, ignoring orders to stop.
The army arrested 22 Palestinians in raids throughout the West Bank early Wednesday. It said 15 of them were on its wanted list and seven more aroused suspicions and were taken in for questioning.
In the Gaza Strip, the military demolished a Palestinian home in the Maghazi refugee camp, killing an elderly woman inside. She was the stepmother of Baha Abu Said, who broke into an army outpost in November 2000, killing two Israeli soldiers before escaping.
It was not clear why she was still in the house at the time of the demolition.
Troops warn occupants of a house to leave before they tear it down, though there have been instances where deaf people were left inside unaware. Abu Said's relatives said her hearing was poor, but she was not deaf.
The army said that troops at the scene spent 90 minutes calling through bullhorns for residents to leave the house, then made a thorough search of the building and repeated the call before carrying out the demolition.
Israeli prosecutors on Wednesday filed charges against an Israeli Arab they accuse of being an accomplice to a January double suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, in which 23 Israelis and foreign workers were killed.
According to the indictment, Mufak Iruk, from the village of Yafiyeh, near Nazareth, drove the two Palestinian bombers to the site of the attack in his taxi.
Meanwhile, Israel's president, Moshe Katsav, wound up consultations with party leaders and was preparing to choose Sharon to form a new government. The process was just a formality, after Sharon's Likud Party and its hawkish allies won a clear majority in the parliament.
Sharon has said he wants to team up with the dovish Labor Party in a centrist "national unity" government, but so far Labor has refused. Labor lost considerable support in its 20 months in Sharon's previous government, perceived as giving legitimacy to Sharon's escalating military measures against the Palestinians.