Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - An Israeli soldier and seven Palestinians were killed in clashes in the West Bank early Thursday just hours after a woman suicide bomber blew herself up at a checkpoint on a road connecting Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Haim Bachar, 20, was killed and two other soldiers lightly wounded in an Israeli army operation inside the Balata refugee camp, near Nablus.
Two militants from Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction were reported killed in clashes with troops in Balata and five PA security forces were reported killed in clashes around refugee camps in Jenin. Dozens more were reported wounded.
Heavy exchanges of fire were reported between the sides and a number of explosive charges were detonated toward the Israeli troops, the army spokesman said in a statement.
According to the spokesman, the refugee camps have served as bases for terrorist factions, which perceived them to be a "safe haven" from Israeli troops.
"The operation was intended to strike at terrorists and terror infrastructures found in the camps, and to clarify that there is no safe haven for terror," he said.
The military action followed a suicide bomb attack at an army roadblock near the Israeli town of Modi'in late Wednesday, in which three policemen were wounded.
The woman was identified by her relatives as Darin Abu Eisha, a 21-year-old university student, according to news agency reports. The relatives were quoted as saying that Eisha was living in PA-controlled Ramallah and her uncle had blown himself up in a suicide bomb attack on a bus a month ago.
Police stopped a car at the roadblock for a routine check, in which Eisha and two men were traveling and asked for identification papers. When Eisha failed to produce the papers the police asked her to get out of the car.
She then detonated the explosives, which were apparently strapped to her body. The two men with her were either killed in the explosion or by soldiers after the blast.
Moti Tal, one of the policemen wounded in the blast, was standing 20-30 centimeters (about one foot) from the bomber when she detonated the charge. He said it was the first time a terrorist had ever blown up before his eyes.
"There was almost nothing left of her," Tal said from the hospital in a radio interview on Thursday.
The upsurge in violence followed two meetings during the last week of Israeli and Palestinian security chiefs.
A senior official in the prime minister's office said that at the meeting last Friday, which had followed a week of terror attacks and harsh Israeli retaliations, the Palestinians had proposed a ceasefire during the back-to-back Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha and Jewish holiday of Purim.
Israel agreed to stop its air force activities, its deep penetrations into PA-controlled areas and targeted killings for those six days, said the official spoke on condition of anonymity. But after the first three days, at the end of the Muslim feast of Eid al-Adha, the terror attacks resumed in time for the Jewish holiday of Purim, he added.
Also on Wednesday, 16-year-old Rachel Theler, died of wounds she received when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a shopping center in the settlement of Karnei Shomron a week and a half ago.
Two other teenagers also died in that blast, which was the first suicide bomb attack in a settlement since the beginning of bloodshed in September 2000.
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