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Palestinians protest against settlements in Gaza

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GAZA — Dozens of Palestinians protested outside a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip Monday against the killing of a Palestinian woman by Israeli soldiers.

Chanting "no peace with settlements," the Palestinians tried to block a road outside the Kfar Darom settlement, where Israeli soldiers Saturday night shot dead a Palestinian woman traveling in a vehicle.

Five other passengers, including two of the woman's children and her husband, were wounded in the incident.

"We are here to protest at the ugly crime committed by Israeli soldiers and to urge settlers to leave us in peace," said Palestinian Cabinet Minister Imad al-Falouji.

Israel's army said it had apologized to the Palestinian Authority for what it called a "terrible mistake."

It said shots were fired at Israeli soldiers guarding the settlement and the vehicle drove into the cross-fire at a time when the soldiers were firing back.

The Palestinian Authority issued a statement Sunday saying it held Israel responsible for the attack and demanded the soldiers involved in the shooting be put on trial.

In a veiled threat, Falouji said Israel should evacuate Jewish settlers living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip peacefully before "they are evacuated by other means."

Palestinian President Yasser Arafat will discuss the issue of Jewish settlements with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak during a peace summit which starts Tuesday at the Camp David presidential retreat near Washington.

The fate of Jewish settlements is one of the key issues at the heart of the conflict.

Palestinians demand that under a peace deal Israel should dismantle all Jewish settlements in Gaza and the West Bank, lands they want for a Palestinian state they plan to declare this year.