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Israel Tanks Surrounds Jenin - 2001-09-11


Israeli tanks have massed around the West Bank town, Jenin, and witnesses there report some shelling and gunfire. The Palestinians have warned talks between Israel's foreign minister and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat will be canceled, if the tanks enter the Palestinian town.

Israel has charged that Jenin is used by Islamic militants to recruit and train suicide bombers including an Israeli Arab who detonated a bomb Sunday in the northern Israeli city, Nahariya.

Witnesses in Jenin say about a dozen Israeli tanks massed outside the town and started shelling a nearby refugee camp in the early morning hours. They told reporters the electricity was cut shortly after the tanks edged to the outskirts of Jenin.

The Israeli Army has not commented on the details of the operation. A statement issued later in the morning says only that access roads into Jenin are blocked and under full control of the Israeli Army to prevent terrorists moving into Israel.

Another statement issued by the prime minister's office describes Jenin as a "hornet's nest" and a center of terrorist activity.

The statement says Israeli security officers alerted their Palestinian counterparts and passed on information about suspected terrorist leaders. However, the statement charges the warnings were ignored.

Israel also has closed several Palestinian security offices on the outskirts of Arab East Jerusalem.

Israel continues to blame the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian security forces for not preventing the spread of violence.

In the north of the country, two Israeli border policemen have been shot dead and another wounded near the West Bank village, Tulkarem.

The new wave of violence has again put in doubt talks between Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Peres, which were expected to take place as early as Tuesday evening.

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