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Israeli Troops, Tanks Raid Tulkarm - 2002-04-17


Israeli troops Wednesday swept into Arab West Bank villages and neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, as a part of the effort to halt Palestinian terrorism.

The raids came as Secretary of State Colin Powell met with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in his besieged headquarters in the West Bank city, Ramallah.

Israeli troops and tanks entered a Palestinian village east of the West Bank town, Tulkarm, as Secretary of State, Powell began winding up his seven-day peace mission.

Palestinian witnesses say that the Israeli tanks fired at a Palestinian security force building and began house-to-house searches.

Israeli forces also entered a neighborhood in East Jerusalem, removing residents from their homes and carrying out arrests.

Israel says the military operations are needed to arrest Palestinians plotting to carry out attacks.

The actions came as Mr. Powell held talks with Mr. Arafat as part of a final round of meetings before the secretary of state was to depart for Egypt.

Before the meeting, Mr. Arafat said in an interview with Tunisian state television that Mr. Powell's mission had failed to achieve any results.

Mr. Powell says that progress had been made in negotiations with the Israelis and Palestinians but hinted that he would be departing with something less than a mutually proclaimed cease-fire.

He is reportedly striving for the two sides to hammer out a joint statement condemning terror and calling for an independent Palestinian state to be established through peaceful negotiations.

American officials have objected to the Palestinians' demand that the statement also call upon Israel to completely withdraw from east Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

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