NABLUS, West Bank (AP) – A Palestinian woman was found Saturday hiding a hand grenade under her baby during a West Bank arrest raid, an Israeli army officer said.

But the woman, Aziza Jawabra, said the grenade was in the pocket of her jacket and she did not know it was there.

The grenade discovery was made while soldiers searched a house in the town of Assira a-Shimaliya, north of Nablus. Soldiers arrested five fugitives, including Jawabra’s husband, Lt. Col. Arik Chen told The Associated Press. The troops also found 22 pounds of explosives hidden in a suitcase in the house, he added.

Israel has often accused Palestinian militants of hiding explosives in residential areas and of firing on troops from homes. Palestinian civilians have been killed when bomb-makers have inadvertently blown up explosives.

Most recently, 21 Palestinians were killed and dozens were wounded when homemade rockets went off accidentally during a Hamas rally in the Gaza Strip.

The soldiers searched Jawabra after they became suspicious of the way she was carrying her month-old son, Yamin. Jawabra was holding the grenade just under the baby’s backside, Chen said.

“To see a woman using her baby to hide a grenade is not typical,” Chen said.

Jawabra said the arrest raid was traumatic. The troops arrived at the house at about 2 a.m. and forced her to leave the house with her children, refusing to let her get dressed or put on shoes. Forced to walk in front of the troops, Jawabra said the soldiers tried to get her to hand the baby to someone else, but she refused.

“The grenade was in the pocket of a jacket I was wearing,” Jawabra said.

Jawabra said she did not know the grenade was in the jacket pocket or that explosives were hidden in the house.

In a separate incident near Nablus, Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian gunman after he fired on a military patrol in a West Bank town, the army said Saturday.

The shooting took place late Friday in the town of Anabta. The army said two gunmen fired on the patrol, one using a hunting rifle, and a force nearby fired back, killing one of the assailants. Palestinian security officials confirmed a Palestinian had been killed and said he was hit by dozens of bullets.

Palestinians identified the slain man as Raid Masharka, a 21-year-old member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a small, violent PLO faction.

In Algiers, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said he hopes President Bush keeps a pledge to oppose any Israeli actions that hamper peacemaking in the Middle East.

“We obtained promises from American authorities and we hope they will be kept,” Abbas said on a trip to Algeria’s capital after a weeklong tour of Europe and the United States.

In Washington, Bush supported Abbas and urged Israel to stop constructing settlements on the West Bank. He assured Abbas he shared his vision of two states living side by side in peace and security and said Israel would be “held to account” for any actions that hinder peacemaking or burden the lives of Palestinians.

In Gaza, Cabinet minister Mohammed Dahlan praised his Fatah movement’s armed struggle against Israel but called on gunmen to set aside their weapons and move toward democracy. He called on the ruling Fatah party to focus on winning a January parliamentary election.

“We are the pioneers in the Fatah movement and we should put an end to the division. We should be united. It’s time for democracy,” Dahlan said.

Dahlan spoke to a crowd of thousands of cheering Palestinians who welcomed him home Saturday following weeks of medical treatment in Belgrade after suffering a slipped disc in his back in August.

Some Palestinians blame Dahlan’s absence for the internal fighting that has plagued the Gaza Strip since Israel’s pullout. They hope Dahlan, who has some influence over the corruption-plagued security forces, will help bring law and order to the coastal area.

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