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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Two Shot in Bethlehem Church

BETHLEHEM, West Bank -- In a tension-filled day at the Church of the Nativity compound, Israeli troops shot two Palestinians inside, killing one, and two more Palestinians walked out with hands raised, surrendering to Israeli troops.

Israelis and Palestinians renewed negotiations Wednesday evening on the three-week standoff built on the site of Jesus' traditional birthplace. But the meeting, held just a few paces from the church at the Bethlehem Peace Center, was preceded by a brief gunbattle as the negotiators were entering the building.

The talks, which were in their second day Wednesday, have not produced any breakthroughs, and conditions were deteriorating inside the church, where food was running low.

Meanwhile, Israel and the United Nations are at odds over a fact-finding mission appointed to look into the battle in the Jenin refugee camp. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has ordered the team to arrive in the Middle East by Saturday. But Israel is balking, saying it wants the mission to include people with military and anti-terrorism experience. Israel has not said what it will do if they are not added to the team.

At least five Palestinians were killed -- two in an Israeli military raid near the West Bank town of Hebron, and three in the Gaza Strip in what appeared to be a bomb-making accident.

And at Yasser Arafat's besieged compound in Ramallah, the Palestinian president hosted a European Union delegation led by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana. Arafat stressed "the importance of the immediate Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territories," said Arafat adviser Nabil Abu Rdeneh.

The trouble at the church began around dawn, when a Palestinian was shot and seriously wounded by an Israeli sniper while standing by a window inside the church, the army and Palestinian witnesses said. The man was armed, according to the Israeli army, and was moved to a Jerusalem hospital.

A few hours later, two Palestinians surrendered, walking out of the church with their hands up and turning themselves over to Israeli soldiers. The two men said they were ill.

Also, shooting erupted around 5 p.m., as the Israeli and Palestinian delegations were arriving to start the second day of negotiations at the peace center, next to the church.

Afterward, one of the Palestinians negotiators and a priest emerged from the church, carrying a badly wounded man on a stretcher. At one point, the bloodied man fell to the ground. He was taken to a Jerusalem hospital, but died a short time later, the hospital said.

In the Bethlehem talks, Palestinians have proposed that the gunmen be escorted to the Palestinian-controlled Gaza Strip. Israel has been insisting that they must surrender and either be put on trial in Israel or deported.

In renewed violence Wednesday, two Palestinians were killed and seven arrested in an Israeli military operation near Hebron in the West Bank.

According to Palestinians, the army blew up a cave in which the men were hiding, near the village of Bani Naim. The army said it was tracking suspected Palestinian militants, and killed two and arrested seven when an exchange of fire erupted.

Also, three Palestinians were killed in an explosion inside a house in the Jebaliya refugee camp near Gaza City. The house belonged to an activist, Said Mabhouh, Palestinian witnesses said. Palestinian officials declined to comment, while the Israeli military said it had no operations in the area.

Though details were sketchy, witnesses suggested the blast may have occurred while the trio was preparing an explosive.