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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Multiple Attacks Spark Israeli Strike

JERUSALEM -- A Palestinian sniper opened fire on Israeli soldiers and civilian cars at an army checkpoint in the West Bank, killing 10 people, officials said.

The attack came one day after a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowded ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem, killing nine Israelis, including children.

Israel responded with a series of sharp strikes against Palestinian security installations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that killed at least four policemen.

Israeli tanks, warplanes and naval vessels were in action for Sunday's retaliatory strikes. F-16s circled overhead in Gaza and the West Bank, and Israeli gunboats moved close to the Gaza coast.

The army said in a statement its forces were "operating against Palestinian Authority targets in the West Bank," but gave few details about the individual attacks.

The al-Aqsa Brigades, a militia linked to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for both Saturday's bombing in Jerusalem and Sunday's shooting in the West Bank at a checkpoint near the Jewish settlement of Ofra.

The militia -- which had said it would take revenge for Israel's assault last week on the West Bank refugee camps of Balata and Jenin, in which 23 Palestinians were killed over a three-day period -- circulated a leaflet saying Sunday's shooting was in response to Israeli army actions in the two camps.

In the Balata camp, where a man died Sunday of wounds suffered in last week's clashes, a crowd of about 3,000 people marched, chanting "Revenge, Revenge!"

Israel blamed Arafat for the latest attacks, and Dan Naveh, a Cabinet minister, said it showed "there is no alternative but to put an end to Arafat's rule.

"I think the best way to ensure the safety of Israeli citizens is that there will no longer be a Palestinian Authority headed by Arafat," he said. Palestinians, too, said the violence was spiraling out of control -- but blamed Israel.

"This Israeli aggression, which aims to push the entire region closer to an all-out escalation, must be confronted and stopped," said a statement carried by the official Wafa news agency."

In Sunday's early-morning shooting at an Israeli army roadblock near the Palestinian village of Silwad, paramedic Hezi Tsur told Israel radio that seven soldiers and two civilians were killed

The army also said nine died, without specifying how many of them were soldiers. A Jerusalem hospital later reported one of the wounded, a civilian, had died as well.

The army described it as an ambush-style attack that was believed to have been the work of a single sniper.

Elsewhere, Palestinian gunmen opened fire on a group of soldiers early Sunday along a road that runs on the Israeli side of the fence between the Gaza Strip and southern Israel. Army radio said one Israeli was killed and three others wounded. The military wing of the radical group Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for that attack.

"The Islamic movement and all the Palestinian people will not stop terrorizing our enemy all over the occupied land. We will avenge every drop of blood from our Palestinian martyrs," a caller to The Associated Press said.

The army swiftly responded, using tanks to knock down two Palestinian checkpoints on the Gaza side near the site of the shooting and conducting a search in the nearby village of al-Qarara.

Earlier Sunday, Israeli helicopters fired four missiles at Palestinian Authority headquarters and a small factory in Bethlehem -- the first of the daylong series of retaliatory strikes after Saturday evening's bombing in Jerusalem.

The thunderous blast from the suicide blast shook a downtown ultra-Orthodox neighborhood and sent flames leaping into the air from cars that caught fire. Blood splattered the stone wall in front of the Mahane Israel seminary, where up to 1,000 Jews meet every Saturday. Scraps of flesh and clothes were scattered on the streets. Jewish volunteers picked up the small pieces of human remains to ensure a proper Jewish burial. The neighborhood's ultra-Orthodox Jews, in blacks coats and hats, packed the street and looked on from the balconies of the old stone homes lining the road. Some chanted, "no Arabs, no terror attacks."

Besides the bomber, nine people were killed, including a 1-year-old girl and several other children, police said.

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi rejected a Saudi peace plan for the Middle East on Saturday and threatened to withdraw from the Arab League.

"Saudi Arabia's proposals would change nothing because a recognition of Israel would bring nothing but put Arabs at the mercy of Israelis," said Gadhafi.

Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah has proposed that Arab states normalize relations with Israel if it withdraws from Palestinian territory captured in the 1967 war.