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Israeli Troops Kill 3 in West Bank - 2001-12-17

Israeli troops have shot and killed three Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, the day after Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat called for an end to attacks against the Jewish state.

The Israeli army says it attempted to arrest a member of the militant Hamas group in the West Bank town of Hebron. The army says he was shot while trying to escape.

Israeli troops also killed a member of the Palestinian security force in the West Bank city of Nablus.

In the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical officials say a young boy was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers while playing with friends in the Khan Yunis refugee camp.

Palestinian President Yasser Arafat accused the Israelis of escalating their military operations in the West Bank and Gaza, despite his efforts to end the violence. "I am completely committed to what I have declared, but I am sorry to say that, still, the Israelis are escalating their military activities," he said.

Mr. Arafat's remarks came a day after he issued a strong call to suspend the armed struggle and all "terrorist activity" against Israelis.

The speech came after a decision by the Israeli Cabinet last week to break contacts with Mr. Arafat, and declare the Palestinian chairman "irrelevant."

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres says the Jewish state is now waiting to see if Mr. Arafat will crack down on militant groups. "I think his relevance to the situation depends very much upon the implementation of his declarations," said Shimon Peres.

Despite Mr. Arafat's speech, members of the Hamas group, which has carried out numerous suicide bombings that have killed dozens of Israelis, are vowing to continue attacks.

The militants say their armed uprising will not stop, until Israel withdraws from Palestinian territory.

Israeli police briefly detained the leading Palestinian official in East Jerusalem.

Sari Nusseibeh, the Palestine Liberation Organization's representative in the city, was taken in for questioning about a reception he was planning that had been banned by the Israeli government.