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Arafat Calls on Palestinian Factions to Reinstate Cease-Fire - 2003-08-27

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has called for militant groups to reinstate the cease-fire they cancelled last week after the assassination of a Hamas leader.

A statement issued from Mr. Arafat's office in Ramallah said the Palestinian leader calls upon all Palestinian factions to reiterate their commitment to a truce to give international peace efforts a chance.

The cease-fire was agreed to on June 29 by the main militant groups - Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

All three announced the cease-fire was no longer in effect, following an Israeli missile attack last week that killed Hamas leader Ismail Abu Shanab.

On Tuesday, Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas condemned Israel's policy of killing militants, saying they are no solution to the conflict and will only escalate the violence.

An Israeli attack near the Jabalya refugee camp late Tuesday missed the militants who were targeted, killing instead a 65-year-old shop keeper and wounding several children, including an eight-year-old boy who is now listed in critical condition.

Two days earlier, Israeli missiles killed four Hamas militants. The string of Israeli attacks follows a Hamas suicide bombing in Jerusalem that killed 21 Israelis.

In other action, the Israeli military says it shot and killed a Palestinian in the West Bank town of Bethlehem. They say the man was killed after he tried to attack an Israeli with a knife. Palestinian witnesses said he was not armed and had threatened no one.

Twenty-nine Palestinians have been arrested in overnight raids in the West Bank.

Most of the leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad have gone into hiding, after Israel pledged to hunt them down.