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Israeli Missile Attack Damages Force 17 Offices - 2001-09-06


Israel launched two missile attacks against a Palestinian security office in the Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip Wednesday. And security in Jerusalem has been tightened after two days of bombings there. Plans are still going ahead for a meeting between Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, in yet another effort to curb the violence.

The surface-to-surface missile attack badly damaged the offices of the Palestinian security services, known as Force 17. One person was reported injured in the attack.

Israel's missile strike follows several Palestinian mortar attacks on Israeli targets in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli defense forces have also sent more soldiers to patrol Jerusalem's streets after five bomb explosions rocked the city in the past two days. Police surveillance has also been increased in open markets, shopping centers, bus stations and other public areas.

More roadblocks have been set up around the city. The movement of Palestinians into the area is also being restricted.

The high alert comes after two days of bombings that rocked Jerusalem and saw a suicide bomber disguised as an Orthodox Jew detonate a bomb near a Jerusalem hospital.

Despite the violence, both sides are still trying to arrange a meeting between Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres sometime next week.

Mr. Peres told a meeting of foreign diplomats the talks will focus on the possibility of a cease-fire and implementation of the Mitchell Report, which calls for a cooling-off period and moves toward resuming peace negotiations.

"We shall try to continue our efforts to achieve a cease-fire so we shall be able to implement the Mitchell Report and the Tenet document," said Mr. Peres. "I'm not sure this will happen. The meeting with Mr. Arafat will take place this weekend. Preparations are going on and also we would like our meeting in a more isolated place without so many television [cameras] and tens of journalists. But anyway, we didn't change our minds. We shall do whatever is needed to defend our lives and we shall do whatever is possible to bring peace to our neighborhood."

Mr. Peres did not say exactly when the meeting will take place. But a Palestinian official now says the talks need more preparation and could take place next week somewhere in the region.

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