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Israelis Troops to Stay in West Bank Towns - 2001-11-11


Israeli troops are to remain inside two Palestinian-ruled cities in the West Bank, despite international pressure for them to withdraw. Israeli cabinet ministers insist the towns are potential bases for terror attacks.

Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer told a cabinet meeting that troops would continue to be stationed inside Jenin and Tulkarem.

He says that there are clear warnings that Palestinians are planning to launch terror attacks from the towns in the northern part of the West Bank.

Mr. Ben Eliezer says that while the level of violence has fallen in recent days, there is still a need for Israel to remain vigilant. He warns that Palestinian radicals are making an extra effort to carry out "attacks that are more lethal."

Israeli soldiers moved into six Palestinian towns in the West Bank following the assassination more than three weeks ago of Israeli Tourism Minister, Rehavam Ze'evi. The troops have since pulled back from four of these towns.

Israeli soldiers also entered the Palestinian-ruled village of Arakeh near Jenin on Saturday and demolished the home of Nader Mohammed Hamdar, an activist for Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction.

Nader Mohammed Hamdar was responsible for an attack on a bus station in Afula in central Israel in which he killed a soldier and two civilians before being shot and killed by police.

The Israeli troops also destroyed two other homes in the village and arrested 12 Palestinians suspected of being involved in the slaying of an Israeli woman Friday.

The Palestinian Authority has denounced the latest incursions and again called for international observers to be sent to the region to monitor the violence. The Israeli Government strongly opposes any such move.