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Israel Tightens W. Bank Restrictions


Israel is tightening restrictions on Palestinians in the West Bank. The move follows a double suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, the second deadly attack in as many days.

Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer issued a statement saying he has ordered a freeze on measures to ease conditions for Palestinians.

In the past week, Israel had been lifting restrictions in the clampdown imposed a month ago, following two Palestinian suicide bombings in Jerusalem.

Curfews have been re-imposed and movement between towns and cities has been forbidden. In addition, 5,000 permits for Palestinians to return to jobs in Israel have been revoked.

The announcement that restrictions were being re-imposed came after two Palestinians blew themselves up late Wednesday in a crowded street in Tel Aviv, killing three people: two foreign workers and one Israeli. Just one-day earlier, Palestinian gunmen killed eight Jewish settlers when they ambushed a bus in the West Bank.

The killings were the first since the Israeli army moved into the West Bank on June 20. The army has been in and out of the Palestinian-controlled areas repeatedly since the current Palestinian uprising began in September, 2000. The Israeli government says the more massive incursions in recent months were necessary to try to stop attacks on Israelis.

Senior Israeli political leaders have also postponed talks with the Palestinians and plans for further discussions are on hold.

The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the Tel Aviv attack. Palestinian cabinet minister Saeb Erekat condemned the attack, saying he is against the killing of civilians whether they be Israelis or Palestinians.

The Israeli government blamed Yasser Arafat, saying the Palestinian leader has made no effort to stop the bloodshed and that the killings are likely to continue as long as Mr. Arafat remains in power.

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