JERUSALEM — An Israeli missile killed two Palestinian militants Monday in the West Bank, officials and witnesses said, and Israel started building a section of its barrier on seized Palestinian land.
An Israeli helicopter fired the missile at a car in the Balata refugee camp next to the city of Nablus, killing Khalil Marshoud, the local leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a violent offshoot of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement. The military said Marshoud was behind a number of attacks against Israelis.
Another militant also was killed and a third person was seriously wounded, witnesses said.
Israel began building the barrier last year, saying it needed it to keep out Palestinian militants who have killed hundreds of Israelis since the outbreak of fighting in 2000. In some areas, the trenches, walls and fences that make up the barrier run near Israel's border, but elsewhere dip deep into land claimed by Palestinians for a future state.
The latest land seizures are part of the construction of a barrier segment near the Israeli settlement of Ariel, in the West Bank.
Palestinians charge that the barrier is meant to swallow up large parts of the West Bank.
If Israel builds the barrier to include Ariel on the "Israeli" side, it would mean cutting a wedge halfway through the northern part of the West Bank.
Asaf Shariv, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's spokesman, said that for now only an east-west section of the barrier was being built, leaving the option of encircling Ariel separately.
Residents of the Palestinian village of Azawiya were informed that 4,500 acres were being expropriated for a 2-mile stretch of barrier, said Annan Elashkar, a Palestinian liaison with Israel.