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Clashes Continue in MIddle East - 2003-01-08


Israel retaliated on several fronts Monday, in the wake of a double suicide bombing. At least 22 people were killed when two Palestinians blew themselves up in Tel Aviv Sunday. One hundred others were wounded. Palestinian officials condemned the attacks, as did the United States, the European union, Russia, China and the United Nations secretary general.

In the aftermath of the bombings, Israel barred Palestinian officials from attending a conference in London next week, and also said it would not allow the Palestinian central council to hold a planned meeting on the West Bank this week.

In addition, Israel said it was going to shut down three Palestinian universities. Jonathan Peled, a spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry, explained why.

JONATHAN PELED
“Yesterday the cabinet convened and decided to undertake a few measures, some of them more of political character, such as restricting the movement of some political activists who are directly involved in terror, the closure of certain colleges and if you like, small universities which are hotbeds of terrorism.”

Nabil Abu Redeineh, a senior advisor to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, said Palestinian officials are being prevented from travelling and doing their jobs.

NABIL ABU RDEINEH, ADVISOR TO PALESTINIAN LEADER YASSER ARAFAT
“This is a new step. This is a dangerous step. This is going to reflect negatively on the Israelis and we urge the Quartet, especially the United States, to interfere immediately to stop this Israeli aggression.”

Israel also fired missiles at two metal workshops in Gaza City, just hours after the suicide bombings. Israeli officials said the workshops were used to make weapons.

U-s officials said Israel has the right to defend itself -- but warned it should be mindful of the consequences of its actions,

In Washington, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the Palestinians need to do everything they can to stop the violence.

RICHARD BOUCHER
“The Palestinian community suffers from this kind of violence, it makes it more difficult for them to achieve their goals, and we have made that position very clear.”

The Al-Aqsa martyrs brigades, which has links to Palestinian leader Arafat’s Fatah faction, claimed responsibility for the Sunday attacks.

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