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Palestinian militants attack Gaza crossing

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Associated Press

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Palestinian militants set off a large truck bomb as gunmen stormed an Israeli base at a vital Gaza crossing Thursday, killing five Israelis and wounding five others in an attack that defied peace efforts by new Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

The assault, in which three Palestinians attackers were also killed, was by far the biggest since Abbas won an election Sunday to succeed Yasser Arafat as head of the Palestinian Authority. Abbas has been trying to persuade militant groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad to agree to a cease-fire, but so far with no success.

The bombing came just hours after Hamas' West Bank leader Sheik Hassan Yousef said his group might consider an end to attacks against Israel. Hamas was one of three militant groups that claimed responsibility for the bombing, dubbing it "Shaking Castles."

The attack took place just before 11 p.m. at the Karni crossing, where all the farm produce and other goods enter and leave the Gaza Strip.

The militants entered the crossing in a bomb-laden truck minutes before it was to close, the military said. They blew a hole in the security wall between the Israeli and Palestinian sides of the crossing, and at least two gunmen charged through and attacked the Israelis.

One report said they blew themselves up, but another said they opened fire and were killed by Israeli soldiers.

About 90 minutes after the attack, Israeli helicopters fired three missiles early Friday at a building in Deir el-Balah in central Gaza used by Islamic Jihad, the Israeli military and Palestinian security officials said. One person was slightly wounded.

Israel intends to pull out of Gaza in the summer. Militant groups have been stepping up their attacks in recent months in an attempt to show that they are forcing the Israelis out. A month ago, soldiers discovered a tunnel militants were digging toward the Karni checkpoint in an attempt to blow it up.

Five Israelis were killed in Thursday's attack, the Israeli military said. Israeli hospital officials said they were treating three seriously wounded people and two slightly wounded.

Copyright © 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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