Violence threatened a crucial summit meeting intended to promote Mideast peace efforts when Israeli soldiers shot and killed three Palestinians next to the Gaza-Israel border fence.
The military said soldiers spotted the three crawling toward the border fence near the Kissufim crossing point late Sunday carrying a bag apparently planning to plant a bomb. Soldiers opened fire, the military said.
Palestinian officials said the three were killed, and contacts were underway with the Israelis to turn over their bodies. It was the most serious incident of its kind since Israel completed its Gaza pullout last month.
The clash came as Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat was to sit with Dov Weisglass, a top aide to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a day before the scheduled summit between Sharon and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. It was not immediately known whether the talks would proceed.
Though both sides had reasons to hold a well-publicized summit to symbolize continued progress toward peace after Israel's pullout from Gaza and part of the West Bank, Israel balked at making gestures it said would harm its security, reports the AP.
Photo: the AP P.T.