Jerusalem Palestinian gunmen burst into homes in a Jewish settlement and killed four people, including a 5-year-old girl, raising tension in the West Bank the day before the scheduled arrival of a U.N. fact-finding team to the area.
Seven people were wounded in the attack on Adora, near Hebron, the worst on a settlement since Israel began its military campaign to crush Palestinian militants. The three gunmen escaped, but Israeli military officials said one of them was shot dead in a neighboring Arab village in a sweep launched after the shooting.
Palestinians in nearby Hebron, one of the West Bank's largest cities, braced for Israeli reprisal, with police abandoning stations that in the past have been targets of retaliatory strikes. In Ramallah, meanwhile, about 50 young Palestinians throwing stones battled Israeli soldiers surrounding Yasser Arafat's besieged headquarters.
Soldiers peppered demonstrators with tear gas, advancing on foot toward the city center trying to push them back. Several Palestinians were hit by rubber bullets, said AP photographer Brennan Linsley, whose face was bruised by one.
At Adora, a hilltop settlement of 52 families set among Palestinian villages, the Israeli army said three attackers dressed in what appeared to be army uniforms cut through the settlement's defensive perimeter fence.
The gunmen moved from house to house, entering two of them and firing through windows of others, while many of the men were attending Sabbath prayers at the settlement's synagogue. Residents said the firing went on for about 45 minutes; the army said about 15 minutes.
One man shot Shiri Shefi, 29, and her three children in an upstairs bedroom, killing 5-year-old Danielle. Another attacker shot his way into a nearby home, killing Katya Greenberg, 45, in her bed and wounding her husband and 14-year-old son.
"Anyone capable of looking a 4-year-boy and a 5-year-girl in the face and then shooting them is not human," said the distraught father, Yaacov Shefi, whose 1-year-old son also was wounded.
Also killed were a male civilian and a member of the residents' security squad, according to the army. It did not identify them further and the Adora settlement office refused to comment.
Army troops and helicopters mounted a massive manhunt for the gunmen, conducting a house-to-house search in the nearby village of Taffuh. The army said reserve soldiers spotted one of the three, fired on him and killed him.
The unidentified Palestinian was wearing an army shirt and pants, the military said. Israeli forces, it said, were searching for two other attackers.
Israel said it held Arafat's Palestinian Authority responsible. "The war against terror is not over," said Environment Minister Tsachi Hanegbi.
Palestinian Cabinet secretary Ahmed Abdel Rahman, however, blamed Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's military campaign against Palestinians.
l For more stories on the Mideast situation, see page 6A.