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Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Two Israeli soldiers killed, shot at point blank range

Arab gunman had AK 47 hidden in prayer mat
JPost: The army has released the names of two soldiers killed Tuesday morning on the tunnel road which links the Bethlehem-area Gush Etzion communities to Jerusalem.

The two were St.-Sgt. Shaul Lahav, 20, from Kibbutz Shomrat in the north, (L) and Sgt.-Maj. Shlomi Belski, 23, from Haifa (R) .

The shooting attack took place at 6am when Palestinian terrorists in a car stopped several meters from the roadblock. A gunman got out and approached the roadblock with his rifle - an AK 47 - concealed in a prayer mat, then shot the soldiers from point-blank range. Lahav, who wore a ceramics flack jacket, was shot in the neck, while Belski, who was sitting a jeep, was critically wounded from a bullet that managed to pierce his regular flack jacket.

Magen David Adom medics arrived at the scene and attempted to stabiliize their conditions. MADA transferred them to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital, where they were pronounced dead.

Israel handed over security control of the Bethlehem region to the Palestinian Authority on July 3 of this year in return for promises that it would combat terrorism and assume security control of the area. Today's attack was the third in the area since the security handover.

The IDF has imposed a new curfew on El Khader, Bethlehem and the region, and forces are conducting house-to-house searches for the murderers.