Israeli Troops Destroy Home of Islamic Jihad Gunman

Israeli troops blew up Tuesday the home of an Islamic Jihad (search) gunman who carried out an attack on a West Bank (search) settlement on the eve of the Jewish New Year, killing two people, including a seven-month-old baby.

Soldiers arrived at the home of Mahmoud Hamdan (search), 22, before sunrise, and destroyed the home in a village near Hebron, Palestinian witnesses and the army said.

Hamdan infiltrated the Jewish settlement of Negohot late Friday, knocking on the door of a trailer where a family was enjoying a holiday dinner, residents said. One of the guests, a 27-year-old Jewish seminary student, opened the door and was shot in the chest. Then Hamdan entered the house and began shooting randomly, killing the seven-month-old baby girl.

Hamdan failed to escape and was killed by soldiers guarding the settlement.

Israel routinely demolishes the homes of gunmen and homicide attackers in an attempt to deter Palestinians from attacking Israelis. Palestinians condemn the policy as collective punishment and a violation of international law.

Israel's Cabinet was to review and approve plans for another section of a planned barrier separating the West Bank from Israel at its meeting Wednesday. The barrier -- which will eventually be some 400 miles of trenches, razor wire, fences and walls -- is meant to keep Palestinian attackers out of Israel. Hundreds of Israelis have been killed by Palestinian homicide bombers and gunmen.

The United States and the Palestinians both oppose the planned barrier, which eats up chunks of Palestinian land. The United States opposes Israel including West Bank settlements on the "Israeli" side of the barrier and has threatened to cutback on promised loan guarantees.

The Cabinet is to review and approve on Wednesday plans for the barrier around the Jewish settlement of Ariel, one of the most controversial areas because the community is home to thousands of Israelis.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Monday Ariel and the smaller, nearby settlement of Kedumim, would be included on the "Israeli" side of the barrier, meaning Israel will swallow up some 17 miles of West Bank land.

"If we reach a point where the matter once again creates a dispute, we will sit with the Americans again," Sharon said.

Israel is pushing ahead with the barrier as a Palestinian uprising, or intefadeh, enters its fourth year. The violence, which has killed thousands of people, has throttled Israel's economy and dealt a near deadly blow to the fledgling Palestinian infrastructure.

Israel has reoccupied nearly every West Bank Palestinian town and village, carrying out debilitating military operations in retaliation for Palestinian attacks on Israelis.

Outgoing Palestinian security chief Mohammed Dahlan told The Associated Press on Monday the Palestinians were better off before the uprising erupted. But in a conflicting statement, jailed uprising leader, Marwan Barghouti, said he was "proud" of the resistance, and would rather die than live under Israeli occupation.

Barghouti was snatched by Israeli troops in April 2002, and is being tried for more than 20 counts of murder in a Tel Aviv court. He has refused to defend himself or recognize the jurisdiction of the Israeli court to put him on trial. He made a closing statement on Monday.