AFP also said two Palestinian fighters were killed on Thursday in an Israeli air strike on a house in the Gaza Strip while an Israeli soldier was stabbed to death at a West Bank checkpoint.

Medical and security sources named the two dead men as Iyyad al-Najar, 28, and Ziad Qaddas, 27, who were both members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

A third member of the Brigades was seriously wounded but two other casualties also included a four-year-old girl, doctors said.

Witnesses said an unmanned drone had fired a single missile into a courtyard of the house where al-Najar and Qaddas had been sitting.

Aljazeera said an Israeli F-16 had fired two rockets at a non-residential district near southern Gaza earlier on Thursday.
 
Activists held

Elsewhere, many Palestinians joined a mourning procession for Mahmoud al-Arqan, who was killed in an Israeli air raid on Wednesday, Aljazeera's correspondent said.
 
In another development, Palestinian security personnel arrested an activist of the Islamic Jihad movement in Ram Allah.
 

An Israeli soldier was knifed to
death at Qalandiya checkpoint

Security forces had earlier detained 11 Islamic Jihad activists after storming their homes in Hebron.
 
Aljazeera quoted Islamic Jihad sources as saying the PA had detained 33 of its members in the West Bank in the last few days.

The resumption of deadly violence on Thursday, which has left 11 people dead on both sides in the past five days, has also led to a freezing of plans for a bus link to connect the West Bank and Gaza Strip from next week.

The day after killing a Palestinian resistance fighter by slamming a missile into his car in southern Gaza, the Israeli air force targeted a house in the northern Bait Lahiya area, which has been used as a regular launchpad for Palestinian rockets just over the border into Israel.

Series of raids

The military has carried out a series of air raids on Gaza in the aftermath of a bomb attack at a shopping mall in the coastal resort of Netanya which killed five Israelis in addition to the Palestinian bomber on Tuesday.

One member of an umbrella organisation of armed groups, the Popular Resistance Committees, was killed on Wednesday when an Israeli air strike targeted a vehicle in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah.

"There will be be no discussions about these convoys as long as the Palestinian Authority fails to respect its commitments to fight against terrorism"

Israeli PM Ariel Sharon's spokesman

Early on Thursday, Israeli aircraft bombed access routes in the north of the Gaza Strip which had been used by Palestinians as a launchpad to fire makeshift rockets.

A missile fired by an Israeli helicopter also landed close to a car carrying a group of Palestinian fighters in the southern Khan Yunus region. The army said the raid was aimed at fields used to fire rockets into Israel.

Israel has consistently accused the Palestinian Authority of doing nothing to crack down on armed groups which are meant to be observing a truce.

Since Tuesday's attack in Netanya, claimed by the Islamic Jihad movement, dozens of activists from all the main armed factions have been arrested by Israeli troops operating on the ground in the West Bank.

Deadly violence

The mayor of the West Bank town of Bait Laqya, close to
Ram Allah, was among more than 20 members of the Islamist movement Hamas arrested on Thursday.

Deadly violence also flared at the Qalandiya checkpoint between Ram Allah and Jerusalem where an Israeli soldier was stabbed to death by a knife-wielding Palestinian, according to army radio.

Hopes raised by Israel's pullout
from Gaza are slowly fading

An AFP correspondent who was in the area said dozens of
Palestinians fled in panic when soldiers opened fire after the stabbing at the checkpoint. Witnesses said a soldier could be seen lying on the ground in a pool of blood.

The latest deaths brought the overall toll since the start of the Palestinian uprising in September 2000 to 4902. More than three-quarters of the victims have been Palestinian.

The bloodshed has also dampened enthusiasm for a breakthrough in the peace process which had been bolstered by Israel's pullout from the Gaza Strip and a subsquent agreement, brokered by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, for the border between Gaza and Egypt to reopen last month.

Deal in danger

The bus service, which was due to have begun on 15 December, was a key component of the agreement but Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's top security officials have now decided to put all negotiations on hold in protest at the Netanya attack.

"There will be be no discussions about these convoys as long as the Palestinian Authority fails to respect its commitments to fight against terrorism," a spokesman for Sharon told AFP.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erikat said the decision to freeze the talks on a bus link was "a flagrant violation of the agreement on the points of passage which was supervised by Dr Rice".

"The convoys must begin operating on 15 December and Israel must respect this agreement," Erikat told AFP.