Israel has banned all boat traffic off the coast of the Gaza Strip after Palestinian militants carried out a suicide mission at sea today (Saturday).
A Palestinian fishing boat blew up next to an Israeli naval vessel, wounding four Israeli sailors and killing the two militants on the fishing boat. The militant group Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility.
The group also says the explosion sank an Israeli Navy boat -- however, Israeli officials say their vessel was only damaged by the blast. The Israeli craft was trying to force the fishing boat to leave a banned area on the coast north of the Gaza Strip, near a Jewish settlement (Dugit).
The attack in the eastern Mediterranean Sea was the first of its kind since the Palestinian intifada (uprising) began more than two years ago.
Meanwhile, Israeli radio says it appears the British U-N aid official killed Friday during a clash in the Jenin refugee camp was shot by an Israeli soldier.
The radio says preliminary findings show that a soldier mistook a cell phone in the official's hand for a hand grenade, and fired the fatal shots. The Israeli military says the investigation is still in progress
The fatal gunbattle between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian gunmen broke out after Israeli forces entered the camp to search for an Islamic Jihad leader.
Ian Hook -- who was managing a U-N project to rebuild the heavily damaged West Bank refugee camp -- is the first U-N worker to be killed during two years of deadly violence between Israelis and Palestinians. He had arrived in Jenin just three weeks ago. U-N Secretary General Kofi Annan says he is greatly disturbed by the incident.
Earlier, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Israeli forces destroyed the homes of three suspected militants. Israeli troops swept into Bethlehem early Friday in response to a suicide bombing one day earlier in (nearby) Jerusalem that killed 12 people, including the bomber.
Israeli officials say they have made a number of arrests in their search for about 30 Palestinian militants suspected of involvement in various attacks against Israelis.
Israel has now re-occupied every major Palestinian population center in the West Bank, except Jericho.