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Israeli-Palestinian clashes continue in Gaza, West Bank
Three Palestinians killed, CNN correspondent wounded in Gaza violence
CNN Correspondents Jerrold Kessel and Fionnuala Sweeney contributed to this report.
GAZA CITY (CNN) -- In another day of violence in the Middle East, four Palestinians were killed in a clash with Israeli troops at a border crossing near here. Another Palestinian was killed in a clash in Ramallah.
This comes a day before Israel's acting foreign minister was to travel to Washington for talks with U.S. officials on how to repair the tattered Mideast peace process.
Hospital officials said at least 49 people, including a CNN correspondent, had been injured in fighting in the West Bank and Gaza.
So far, in more than a month of violence, at least 166 people have been killed, according to the International Red Cross -- 141 Palestinians, 13 Israeli Arabs, and 12 Israeli Jews.
The Israeli Defense Force said its troops responded with tank rounds and automatic weapons fire when its outpost was fired on. The IDF said the attackers used anti-tank weapons for the first time.
The CNN crew, which arrived at the scene, said the preponderance of fire came from the Israeli side as Palestinian militiamen and security forces took cover.
CNN correspondent Ben Wedeman was hit in the side by a bullet during the clash. He remained alert and was taken to Shifa Hospital with what doctors described as a non-life-threatening injury.
The clash took place at the Karni border crossing -- where Israeli trucks transfer goods to Palestinian trucks headed for Gaza City -- has become a flashpoint in recent days. Israel had moved tanks near the location and fired shells at the Palestinians during the latest clash, CNN producers reported.
There were also clashes Tuesday between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank towns of Ramallah, Hebron and Bethlehem.
Israeli helicopters strike Palestinian targets
The latest clashes followed overnight Israeli helicopter gunship attacks on Fatah party offices in Ramallah, Nablus and Gaza. The Ramallah attack left five people injured.
Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat visited the targeted Fatah offices, condemning the attacks and vowing that they would not deter Palestinians from their efforts to form an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.
A senior Israeli commander in Gaza, Shlomo Dagan, said the helicopter strikes were a direct response to rising guerrilla warfare by some Palestinians, specifically the killings of two Israelis on Monday.
Ephraim Sneh, Israel's deputy defense minister, agreed.
"Since the Palestinians are beginning to wage something that approximates a guerrilla war, our helicopter attack was a signal that if there is (a guerrilla war), we have the answer to it," Sneh said on Tuesday.
Acting Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami plans to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in Washington on Wednesday to discuss the continuing violence and prospects for resuming peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
On Monday, U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher renewed an offer from U.S. President Bill Clinton to host separate meetings with Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.
Barak says peace still possible
For his part, Barak continued to hold out the possibility of peace if Palestinians stop their demonstrations.
During a speech Monday at the opening session of Israel's parliament, Barak said Israel currently did not have a peace partner in the Palestinians and that the window to peace was closing.
Barak said that if the Palestinians "stopped the violence" and a U.S.-led commission of inquiry into the clashes "goes to work," he would be willing to return to the United States for more peace talks.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said he was "disappointed" by Barak's speech and blamed Israel for the continued violence.
Palestinian negotiator says violence will stop if Israel withdraws troops
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