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Israel Moves to Curb Terrorism - 2002-08-22

Israel says it will strip the rights of four Palestinians from east Jerusalem, who took part in a Hamas terror group. The move is aimed at deterring other Palestinians in the city, who enjoy the same freedom of movement as Israelis, from taking part in terrorism.

Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai says four residents of East Jerusalem who were at the heart of the Hamas cell, must be punished so that others will not follow their lead.

The four were said to be part of a cell that carried out some of the bloodiest attacks this year, killing 35 people.

Mr. Yishai says there is no need to wait for the suspects to be convicted, before stripping their residency rights. He says the evidence against them is clear and they all confessed to taking part in the attacks.

One member of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Likud Party, Gideon Ezra, says the government should go further. He says the health and other benefits of the suspects should be canceled and their family homes demolished.

The four are not Israeli citizens. However, like all other Palestinians in the city, they carry Israeli identity cards, effectively an internal passport to any part of the country.

Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan during the 1967 Middle East War, later annexing the territory in a move never recognized by the international community.

Only a few of the Palestinian residents incorporated into Israel have taken Israeli citizenship.

Palestinians now number about one-third of Jerusalem's population of 600,000 people.

Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert says most of the city's Arabs are peaceful. He says the majority should not be punished because of the actions of a few.