IGAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) Palestinian gunfire killed an Israeli soldier along the Israeli-Egyptian border yesterday on the eve of Israel”s election that Palestinians promised to turn into a “day of rage.”

Islamic militants threatened to set off bombs on election day the Israeli army announced a tight closure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to contain violence.

The United States urged the Palestinians and Israel not to seize on the election for prime minister in Israel as provocation for violence. “We all want to go through this period with minimal violence,” State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.

In the West Bank town of Hebron, Palestinians exchanged fire with Israeli troops. At the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, an Israeli tank fired 20 shells, apparently in response to Palestinian gunfire that killed Israeli soldier Rujia Salameh, 23, a Bedouin Arab.

Israel ordered the crossing and a Palestinian airport in the Gaza Strip closed in response to the shooting, the Defense Ministry said.

Over the weekend, Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who is trailing hawkish challenger Ariel Sharon by about 20 points in the polls, tightened a ban on Palestinian travel, ordering most Palestinians in the West Bank confined to their communities.

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