The gunmen came from the West Bank town of Jenin
The Palestinian Authority has condemned the killing of three Israelis by Palestinian gunmen, as US envoys began a mission to try to arrange a truce between the two sides.
Two Israelis died and scores were injured when gunmen opened fire in the northern Israeli town of Afula, and an Israeli woman died hours later when Palestinian militants attacked a bus near a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip.
This murderous terrorist act is the Palestinian welcome for [US envoys] General Zinni and Assistant Secretary of State William Burns
Israeli Government spokesman on Afula attack
The killings came as the US envoys - Anthony Zinni and Assistant Secretary of State William Burns - held talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. They are due to meet the Palestinian leadership on Wednesday.
General Zinni said the killings showed the importance of reaching a ceasefire.
In a statement, the Palestinian Authority said it "strongly condemns the two attacks... which targeted Israeli civilians," while Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said the "PLO will deploy a 100 percent effort to consolidate the ceasefire [with Israel]".
Israel, for its part, has called on the envoys to put pressure on Mr Arafat to crack down on Palestinian militants.
"We don't see a change in Arafat's strategy of violence and terror. If you [US envoys] can successfully change his tactics, it would be a great accomplishment," said a statement from Israeli's defence ministry.
The attack in Afula took place as Mr Sharon took the envoys on a helicopter tour of the West Bank to demonstrate Israel's security concerns.
The helicopter hovered over the scene of the shootings as ambulances took the wounded to hospital.
Minutes earlier, two men opened fire in the centre of the town, spraying bullets into a bus station and a nearby market.
A bystander, Mordechai Cohen, told Israel radio that "terrorists in civilian dress appeared and started to fire".
"They shot the first person in the head. He fell down, they ran toward the market."
Police shot and killed both attackers.
Palestinian militant groups Islamic Jihad and al-Aqsa Brigades said their members had carried out the attack in revenge for the killing of a leader of the military wing of the radical Islamic Hamas movement by Israel last Friday.
The gunmen came from a refugee camp in the Palestinian-controlled town of Jenin on the West Bank, about 15 km (10 miles) from Afula.
The two attacks came hours after Israeli troops pulled out of Jenin, the last of six Palestinian towns occupied by Israeli forces following the assassination of an Israeli minister last month.
A spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry said the withdrawal was a gesture of goodwill to coincide with the arrival in Israel of the US envoys.
Their mission follows last week's speech by the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, in which he spelled out Washington's vision for the Middle East.
The United States has said General Zinni will stay in the region for as long as it takes to bring an end to 14 months of fighting in which nearly 1,000 people - mainly Palestinians - have been killed.
The following 2008 YNet article is so twisted in its attempt to absolve Israeli military and intelligence from any knowledge of----and collaboration with---the faking of a Hamas enemy's death, that we can only glean a few bits of objective truth that work their way up to the surface.
After long complaining that the PA did nothing to thwart terrorist attacks by punishing Palestinian attackers, we find that two high-level Hamas operatives are imprisoned in a PA-run facility--the Jneid Prison in Nablus. Undisputed by Israeli authorities and media in this account, it was a May 2008 Israeli airstrike on the facility, with an objective of fatally terminating at least one prisoner held within, and we should stop here to acknowledge the obvious war crime this constitutes. However well "targeted" firing missiles from the air into a secure custodial ground facility, it resulted in the factual killing of a dozen innocent Palestinian policemen, and the clandestine freeing of a stated target under the guise his death.
It is not Hamas' or the PA's entitlement to declare a name-brand terrorist (one of their own) as being killed by an Israeli military action in the news media, independently of the protagonists In this context, the lack of Israeli disputation or public doubt in the "fact" of an announced death, equals an official collaboration in a deception foisted on the public. The Israeli establishment is not so stupid to deny this---there has never been a "fog of war" on the West Bank or in the Gaza strip.
The extraordinary BBC News account of October 2001 "terrorism," stage managed with a heavy Israeli hand, is summed up by an Israeli Government spokesman, Avi Pazner, on the "Afula attack":
"This murderous terrorist act is the Palestinian welcome for [US envoys] General Zinni and Assistant Secretary of State William Burns."
The faking of Jewish death by "terrorist attack" is a much more common tactic used by Israeli authorities in the rousing of public enmity against Palestinians, and the forestalling of separate statehood, with peace and security. It would be easy to prove this fact with a proper academic bio-statistical analysis of the timing of attacks coinciding, for instance, with peace initiatives, as well as the improbable repetitive patterns, undisguisable as the result of foreknowledge, manipulation and abuse of power. But there are no independent academics or professionals who are unbeholden to the Israeli-Jewish dominated system, which manages and manipulates public opinion via the news media.
December 22, 2008, YNet, Hamas operative arrested 6 years after being declared dead, by Ali Waked,
Palestinian Authority detains former commander of Hamas' military wing in Nablus after declaring him dead in 2001 IDF strike; Hamas issues statement slamming PA for collaborating with Israel
The Palestinian Authority arrested the former commander of Hamas' military wing in the West Bank more than six years after he was declared dead, Ynet has learned. The operation that ended in Rajab al-Sharif's arrest took place on Saturday.
In May of 2001 Hamas claimed al-Sharif had been killed in an Air Force strike on Jneid Prison in Nablus. The strike targeted Mahmoud Abu-Hanoud, a senior Hamas operative responsible for a number of terror attacks in Israel, resulting in the deaths of 12 Palestinian police officers.
Abu-Hanoud, who was considered a protégé of al-Sharif, escaped the strike but was killed by the IDF a year and a half later. After the bombing of the prison he met with al-Sharif's family and notified them of his death.
In November the IDF received intelligence that al-Sharif was still alive and raided the family's home, demanding his surrender. The raid prompted a PA investigation, which concluded that he was indeed still alive, and frequented the home of his family.
After al-Sharif's arrest on Saturday Hamas declared the PA responsible for his well-being. "The Authority's gangs arrested al-Sharif in coordination with the IDF and Israeli security," the group said in a statement.
Hamas claimed Palestinian security officials celebrated the arrest by singing and tooting horns in the streets of Nablus. The group said the celebration was "a knife in the back of the Palestinian resistance and a service to the Israelis."