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Violence Appears To Have Decreased in Occupied Territories - 2001-12-18


No news may be good news in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a relative calm appeared to prevail over Israel and the occupied territories. After weeks of escalating violence, there were no Israeli military raids overnight and no major clashes reported Tuesday.

Israel has arrested 10 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Palestinian militants lobbed a number of mortars into a Jewish settlement there, but no injuries were reported.

The incidents were minor compared to the past several weeks of escalating violence that included Palestinian suicide bombings, ambushes and mortar attacks and Israeli air strikes, tank and troop movements inside the Palestinian territories.

The skies over the territories remained quiet overnight Monday. There were no Israeli air raids on Palestinian security targets. Israel had launched a massive military operation in the West Bank and Gaza last week after announcing it was cutting contacts with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had blamed Mr. Arafat for not cracking down on terrorists after two suicide bombings earlier in the month killed 26 people. Israel said it would take matters into its own hands and arrest terrorist suspects and confiscate illegal weapons.

On Sunday, Yasser Arafat called on Palestinian militants to halt their attacks on Israelis. And he declared illegal any groups carrying out terrorist activities.

On Monday, Mr. Arafat accused Israel of intensifying its military campaign despite his calls for calm after Israeli troops shot and killed three Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

So, it is not clear how long the relative calm of Tuesday will last.

Palestinian militant groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad that have claimed responsibility for most of the terrorist actions have vowed to continue their attacks on Israelis despite Yasser Arafat's call for an end to the violence.

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