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Israel Raids West Bank Following Ze'evi Assassination - 2001-10-24


At least seven Palestinians were killed as the Israeli military launched new raids into a Palestinian ruled area of the West Bank.

Israeli tanks, combat helicopters, and troops moved into the West Bank village of Beit Rima, near Ramallah. Troops took over several buildings and arrested a number of local residents.

The Israeli military says it launched the incursion into the village to stamp out what it called a "broad infrastructure of terrorism." The Israeli army says the village was used by militants suspected of assassinating Israeli cabinet minister Rehavam Zeevi last week.

The military says among those arrested were members of the militant Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the group that claimed responsibility for the assassination.

Palestinians called the raid "a massacre." Palestinians complained that Israeli forces would not allow their ambulances to enter Beit Rima to evacuate the wounded.

An army spokesman says the ambulances were banned because the operation was still in progress.

In Tulkarem, three men were killed in what Palestinians say was an ambush by Israeli special forces. The Israeli military says the soldiers spotted armed Palestinians who were about to open fire. Palestinians say two more people were killed in Tulkarem by Israeli tank fire.

In the village of Abu Dis, adjacent to Jerusalem, Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian man during clashes there.

In Bethlehem, a man riding in his car was killed, apparently after being caught in a crossfire between Palestinian gunmen and Israeli troops.

In Ramallah, Palestinian doctors say a policeman died of wounds sustained in fighting earlier this week.

Israel has rejected demands from the United States and other countries to withdraw immediately from the Palestinian territories.

Israel launched its broadest military campaign in years against the Palestinians following the killing of Mr. Zeevi.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told members of parliament the troops will withdraw once they have completed their mission. Mr. Sharon says Israel has no intention of permanently reoccupying Palestinian ruled areas.

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