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Deaths of 3 Palestinians condemned

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HEBRON, West Bank — The killing of three Palestinians in the West Bank, apparently by Jewish extremists, drew condemnations today from Israeli leaders, Jewish settlers and the United States. Palestinians held Israel's government responsible.

A witness to the Thursday night shooting attack said a gunman approached a Palestinian car and opened fire, killing three people, including a baby, and wounding four others. Israeli media reported a responsibility claim from the "Committee for Road Safety," a shadowy extremist cell that had roots in West Bank settlements.

The funeral procession today headed slowly from a Hebron hospital to Idna village. About 1,000 Palestinians walked behind the bodies, which were wrapped in Palestinian flags. Mourners chanted, "Death to the settlers, death to America, death to Israel," and called for an attack in Tel Aviv.

A leaflet from the Hamas militant group, distributed at today's funeral but not directly mentioning Thursday's killings, pledged "that we will not waste any blood, and we will teach the Zionist enemy a lesson they will never forget."

In Idna, the baby's mother, Rima Tmaizi, 28, was surrounded by sobbing relatives. "God will lift my baby to heaven," she said. "I'm sure our people will take revenge for him."

The shooting attack came hours after foreign ministers of the leading industrialized nations issued a joint call for observers to be sent to the region in an effort to end nearly 10 months of violence. Palestinians welcomed the call. Israel long has rejected the idea of international observers — and the G8 said both sides must agree.

Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer told Israeli television today that he opposes sending in any observers, but "if something will be imposed on us . . . then, without any other possibility, I will accept the presence of the CIA here."

Ben-Eliezer's spokesman, Yarden Vatikai, said the defense minister's comment reflected only if an agreement were made in some sort of extreme situation. In that case, Vatikai said, "something that could be considered would be an enlargement of the CIA presence here" but not an active force.

He said there hasn't been discussion of what sort of role an enlarged CIA could play because Israel opposes such an option. Now, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency coordinates Israeli-Palestinian security meetings designed to restore cooperation and trust between the parties.

Today, Secretary of State Colin Powell emphasized that any monitoring would require the approval of both sides. "That's the only way monitoring would work," he said.