Medical sources said Israeli fire killed 25-year old Bilal Shorab was killed in the Khan Yunis region of the southern Gaza Strip. The circumstances behind the shooting were not immediately known.

Powell came down heavy on
the Hamas

The US Secretary of State meanwhile kept up his tirade against Hamas upon arriving in Israel to try and save the US-sponsored roadmap plan.

“The enemy of peace has been Hamas, especially over the last two weeks”, Powell said.

"As long as they have… a commitment to terror and violence and a desire to destroy the state of Israel, I think this is a problem we have to deal with in its entirety."

Prominent Hamas political leader Abd al-Aziz al-Rantissi said in response:

“Colin Powell proved that he is a real slave to the Zionists, a liar and a hypocrite.”

Al-Rantissi had survived an Israeli attempt to kill him in Gaza last week.

Powell met with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Jerusalem and is due to hold talks with Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank town of Jericho later in the day.

 

Speaking to reporters en route to the region on Thursday, the secretary of state played down the possibility of a breakthrough to end the cycle of violence.

 

But he vowed to lean hard on Palestinians and Israelis to fulfil their obligations.

 

His one-day visit to Israel and the Occupied Territories came two weeks after US President George W Bush launched the peace plan at a summit in the Jordanian Red Sea resort of Aqaba.

 

Powell flew into Jerusalem aboard a Jordanian military helicopter from Jordan.

 

He is due to return later on Friday to attend a weekend meeting of the World Economic Forum.

Powell will not meet President Yasser Arafat in line with the US policy to sideline the Palestinian leader whom it accuses of inciting violence.

In sharp contrast, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that the US and other nations seeking to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict "should not ignore" Arafat.

 

Other developments

  • An Israeli settler was killed when Palestinian fighters opened fire at a car near the Jewish settlement of Ofra in the occupied West Bank, medical sources said. Another three were wounded.
  • Palestinian resistance activities continued on Friday with a booby-trapped bicycle exploding near the entrance to a Jewish settlement in the southern Gaza Strip. The blast did not cause any casualties or damages.
  • Three Palestinians were detained in Gaza overnight by the Israelis.
  • EU leaders meeting in Greece have decided to urge Palestinian resistance group Hamas to cease its military operations against Israeli targets. 

    Israeli soldiers clashed with
    Jewish settlers

  • Israeli soldiers clashed with Jewish settlers for hours on Thursday before being able to dismantle their outpost built on occupied land in the West Bank.  The settlers have vowed to set up two new outposts for each one dismantled.
  • Hours earlier an Israeli was killed in northern Israel by a human bomb operation claimed by Palestinian resistance group Islamic Jihad.

Powell said on Thursday that Abbas did not only have to push Palestinian resistance groups to agree on a ceasefire, but also “eliminate their capacity to perform terrorist activities”.

 

Powell also urged the Israeli right-wing government to exercise restraint, saying that assassination attempts of prominent political leaders of Palestinian resistance groups was counterproductive.

 

“The targeting of the high-profile figure last week made it more difficult to move forward with the roadmap, and I think the Israelis understand that,” he said.