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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Israel Fights Gunmen in West Bank

NABLUS, West Bank -- Israeli troops raided downtown Nablus on Thursday, imposing a curfew that confined tens of thousands of people to their homes as soldiers combed the city's narrow alleyways in search of wanted Palestinian militants.

Five soldiers were wounded in clashes with Palestinian gunmen, the army said.

The crackdown drew angry condemnations from the new Palestinian government of President Mahmoud Abbas. Earlier this week, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promised to bolster Abbas' government, which is locked in a power struggle with the Islamic Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip.

"We view this aggression as a way to undermine our efforts to provide security and end the chaos," Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said at a conference in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

The Nablus operation began late Wednesday, just as Israel was wrapping up two incursions in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. In those raids, Israeli forces killed 11 Palestinians, including eight gunmen and a 12-year-old boy. It was the bloodiest fighting in Gaza since the Hamas takeover two weeks ago.

n President Moshe Katsav signed an unexpected plea bargain Thursday that ended a yearlong investigation into alleged sex crimes by the nation's ceremonial leader, agreeing to resign in a deal that includes no jail time.