Israeli Troops Destroy Bomber's House in West Bank

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Israeli soldiers on Wednesday demolished the home of a suspected homicide bomber in the West Bank and removed the remains of a neighborhood mosque on the Gaza-Egypt border.

Soldiers leveled the home of homicide bomber Ashraf Saed in the West Bank town of Nablus, leaving nine homeless, the army said. Saed died in an Aug. 8 attack that injured an Israeli soldier at a West Bank checkpoint.

In the Rafah refugee camp in Gaza, meanwhile, troops knocked down a neighborhood mosque that had been seriously damaged in previous strikes.

Israel's new hardline government, which was sworn in last week, has promised stepped up military strikes against suspected militants and their infrastructure. In two weeks of back-to-back raids in Gaza and the West Bank more than 50 Palestinians have been killed.

The U.S. government protested the intensifying Israeli operations, which have led to several civilian casualties.

"We have concerns about actions that go beyond and that bring harm to the innocent, including innocent Palestinians," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said on Monday.

Israel stepped up its raids into Gaza after a Feb. 15 attack, in which a bomb blew apart an Israeli tank, killing four soldiers. Hamas claimed responsibility for the bombing.

In a political development, Palestinians said Tuesday that Yasser Arafat is considering appointing billionaire businessman Monib al-Masri, 65, as prime minister, but officials from Arafat's Fatah movement insisted that the premier must come from Fatah, preferring Arafat's longtime deputy, Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas, a moderate, is tipped as a possible successor to Arafat. He has called the violent 29-month Palestinian struggle a mistake.