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Israeli forces killed four Palestinians during a raid on the Gaza Strip. Troops backed by helicopter gunships entered Bureij in central Gaza early Sunday, triggering clashes with local gunmen.

Locals identified the Palestinians killed as a Hamas gunman and three civilians. Israeli military officials said troops shot several gunmen but had no information on non-combatant casualties. Five soldiers were lightly wounded in a rocket attack on their armored vehicle.

Israel will receive President Bush’s visit this week “with joy,” Ehud Olmert said.

The Israeli prime minister in a briefing to his Cabinet on Sunday about Bush’s visit to the Jewish state and Palestinian Authority, scheduled for Wednesday to Friday, described it as a momentous event.

“He visited Israel before he became president. This time he visits as president and, of course, we will welcome him with joy,” Olmert said, according to an official transcript of his Cabinet remarks.

“Throughout his term, this president has demonstrated great friendship, great concern for Israel’s security and full partnership with us on decisive issues vis-a-vis Israel’s security and economy, and regarding bilateral relations.”

“This is a friendly president who admires and supports the State of Israel, and the State of Israel will certainly grant him the honor that such a visit deserves. “

Bush in Israel will meet with Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

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