Violence Erupts at Gaza Checkpoint, Israel-Lebanon Border

Israeli troops fired at Palestinians trying to bypass a checkpoint Monday, critically wounding one man and injuring a 14-year-old boy. Israel said its troops fired warning shots and only shot toward the group after the pedestrians ignored orders to halt.

In the West Bank (search), a bomb exploded after nightfall under an Israeli army vehicle traveling near the Jewish settlement of Kochav Hashahar, wounding a soldier who was a passenger, rescue and army officials said.

And gunfire erupted across the Israel-Lebanese border Monday, killing one Israeli soldier. An Israeli military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, blamed the attack on Hezbollah (search), the anti-Israeli militant guerrilla group active in south Lebanon. But Hezbollah said it was not involved.

Hours later, a four-year-old Lebanese boy was killed and his brother wounded in an explosion in a village near the border with Israel.

Israel's army said at least three mortar shells were shot early Tuesday from Lebanon toward northeastern Israel. Lebanese officials said they didn't know if Tuesday's explosion in the village of Houla was caused by a rocket or an anti-aircraft shell fired toward Israel that fell short.

Meanwhile, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat prepared to swear in a small eight-member Cabinet on Tuesday, with Ahmed Qureia (search) as prime minister, after declaring a state of emergency in the Palestinian areas. Arafat's decree came a day after an Islamic Jihad homicide bomber killed 19 Israelis in a restaurant in the port city of Haifa.

The Palestinians wounded in the Gaza Strip had been trying to cross a road closed by the military a daily earlier, as part of new restrictions imposed in response to the Haifa (search) bombing. The road links the southern Gaza towns of Rafah and Khan Younis, and was blocked by a checkpoint.

A 42-year-old man was in critical condition with a head wound, and 14-year-old boy was shot in the leg, hospital officials said. On Sunday, a 26-year-old man was killed and three others were wounded while trying to bypass the same checkpoint.

Also Monday, Israeli tanks and bulldozers entered the Rafah refugee camp in southern Gaza and demolished four Palestinian homes, Palestinian security officials and local residents said.

Israeli army officials said they had no report of house demolitions in the area but that Palestinians fired anti-tank missiles, mortar shells and live ammunition toward Israeli forces in the area. One Israeli soldier was slightly injured, the army spokesman said.

The Islamic militant group Hamas said it fired 16 mortar shells at Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip overnight, in retaliation for an Israeli air strike on a suspected Islamic Jihad training camp in Syria. Israel had launched the strike in reprisal for the Haifa bombing.

Hamas also said it would carry out more attacks in Israel. "Any aggression against an Arab or Islamic country is an aggression against the Palestinian people and, God willing, our response to this aggression will be decisive," read a statement on a Hamas web site. "We call on our fighters ... to respond quickly, and in the heart of the Zionist entity, to this serious escalation."

The Palestinian emergency government to be sworn in Tuesday will serve for a limited term of a month, with a possible one-month extension if two-thirds of legislators back the idea. Qureia could also present a full-sized Cabinet to parliament within a month.

Qureia, tapped by Arafat for the job last month, had initially planned to present a larger government to parliament for approval later in the week.

However, following the Haifa bombing, Arafat was clearly concerned about possible Israeli action against him. Israel threatened last month to "remove" Arafat, without setting a time, and there were new demands for his expulsion after Saturday's attack.

In installing an emergency Cabinet, Arafat made it more difficult for Israel to move against him. The United States appears willing to give Qureia a chance, and any Israeli action against Arafat could force Qureia's immediate resignation and cause chaos in Palestinian areas.

Qureia said three portfolios were assigned: Nabil Shaath as foreign minister, Salam Fayad as finance minister and Nasser Yousef as interior minister.

Qureia listed the other five members of the Cabinet as Saeb Erekat, the current chief negotiator; Nabil Abu Hummus, the current education minister; Jamal Shobaki, the current minister of local affairs; and two legislators from Arafat's Fatah movement, Abdel Rahman Hamad and Jawad Tibi.