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Israel threatens retaliation for soldier's death
KEFAR DAROM, Gaza (CNN) -- The Israeli military vowed revenge on Saturday for a Palestinian attack on an Israeli outpost in Gaza that left one Israeli soldier dead and two others wounded, one critically.
The lone gunman was identified as Palestinian security officer Baha Said, a 30-year-old resident of the al-Maghazi refugee camp. The Fatah Hawks, an armed militia faction of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for Said's actions.
"The Palestinian Authority has to know well that if their official military organizations and the like are part of the attacks, we will attack them," said Israeli Maj. Gen. Yom-Tov Samia.
Said was killed in the gun battle with Israeli soldiers near the Jewish settlement of Kefar Darom. At his funeral later on Saturday, thousands of Palestinians chanted that Said's "blood will not have been shed in vain."
More clashes in West Bank
The Fatah Hawks said Said's assault did not contravene Arafat's orders, issued on Friday, to stop shooting from Palestinian-controlled areas since Said attacked an Israeli-controlled outpost.
The dead soldier was identified as 21-year-old Staff Sgt. Baruch Plum from Tel Aviv.
Palestinian authorities said the incident was under investigation, and urged the Israelis to refrain from retaliating.
Clashes were also reported on Saturday in the West Bank towns of Ramallah and Hebron, where Palestinians said the Israeli army fired on them following the funeral of two of six Palestinians killed in clashes on Friday.
The Israelis, however, said that the Palestinians fired first.
Three Palestinians were wounded in the Hebron clash.
Since the latest cycle of violence began on September 28, at least 255 people have been killed, including 217 Palestinians, 25 Jews and 13 Israeli Arabs.
U.N. focuses on fact-finding mission
Arafat's Israeli counterpart, Prime Minister Ehud Barak, responded to Arafat's ceasefire order on Friday that words were not sufficient to bring him back to negotiations aimed at ending the violence and restoring the badly damaged Mideast peace process.
But diplomatic discussion over how to end the hostilities was still continuing on other fronts.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan met on Friday with the Security Council to discuss setting up a fact-finding mission, which was outlined in the agreement reached at Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, last month.
The fact-finding mission is to be led by former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, who was closely involved in negotiating the Northern Ireland peace process.
Annan is scheduled to meet Mitchell on Sunday in New York.
Israel imposes economic sanctions
The secretary-general is also reported to be considering sending 30 to 40 officers to monitor the situation on the ground, but the majority of U.N. members are of the opinion there can be no peacekeeping effort of that sort until Israel agrees to back it.
The Palestinians have demanded an international protection force to act as a buffer between them and the Israelis, but Israel has rejected the idea, saying it would reward Palestinian violence.
Meanwhile, the Israeli government has imposed tough economic sanctions on the Palestinian Authority.
Israeli soldiers have been ordered not to allow any goods to enter Palestinian-controlled territories -- apart from food and medicines.
An Israeli government spokesman said Israel is "taking some economic steps to convey a message to the Palestinians and bring about an end to the violence."
Barak also has said that Israel is withholding millions of dollars in tax revenues owed to the Palestinians.
The Israeli clampdown is already is having an effect, with Palestinians on Friday blaming shortages of cooking gas and gasoline on the Israelis.
Arafat: 'Exerting every effort' to end violence
Palestinian Red Crescent Society
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