JERUSALEM – Israeli troops on Tuesday shot and killed two Palestinians who entered an unauthorized area in the Gaza Strip (search).
The men had approached a separation fence near Kibbutz Kfar Aza, a communal farming village in southern Israel east of Gaza City, military sources said. The sources said there have been several recent attempts to infiltrate Israel and plant explosives in the area.
Palestinian security officials confirmed the deaths and said ambulances were on the way to recover the bodies.
Later Tuesday, Palestinian militants fired a homemade rocket into an open area in southern Israel and attacked two Jewish settlements in Gaza with unidentified projectiles. A loud explosion rocked Gaza City.
No injuries were reported, although a house in the settlement of Neve Dekalim (search) was lightly damaged, the army said.
Troops in the West Bank town of Nablus (search) also clashed with stone throwing youths, shooting dead a 22-year-old man and seriously wounding another, witnesses and hospital officials said.
The army had no immediate comment.
The spike in violence came despite the Palestinian leadership's urging of militants to scale back their activities in Yasser Arafat's (search) absence. In France, medical officials caring for Arafat said the ailing leader's condition had worsened.
In the West Bank city of Nablus, meanwhile, Israeli troops demolished the home of a militant accused in a suicide bombing that killed four Israelis last year. The army said Wajdi Judi, 27, dispatched the bomber in the Dec. 25, 2003, attack near Tel Aviv.
It identified Judi, who was arrested on Aug. 3, as a leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a militant faction of the PLO.
Residents said the army destroyed two floors of the three-story home, leaving 11 people homeless.
During the past four years of Israeli-Palestinian fighting, Israel has destroyed hundreds of homes of Palestinian militants.
The army says the practice deters potential attackers, but Palestinians and human-rights groups denounce it as collective punishment.