Both Palestinians were shot dead in an exchange with Israeli occupation troops near Ram Allah in the occupied West Bank.

Meanwhile, helicopters launched two missiles in the Shaikh Ajlin district and, according to residents, raked an open field with gunfire in what the military described as a pinpoint operation to arrest suspected resistance members on Wednesday.

There was one reported casualty in Gaza in what the army had described as a limited operation.

But Aljazeera's correspondent in the occupied territories said  the Israeli tank intrusion provoked the gun battle which led to the arrests.

Five held

The correspondent said Israeli forces detained five Palestinian citizens from the Abu Shuqa family, a father and his four sons, who live about 600m to 700m from the Israeli settlement of Netzarim.

The correspondent added that Israeli forces also damaged the only coastal highway linking the city with the central and southern parts of the Gaza Strip when they bulldozed lands surrounding the settlement.

 

The military offered no comment on its incursion.

On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had telephoned Abbas to offer good wishes, and both sides said they would meet, although no date was set.