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Israel to Continue Expelling Palestinian Militants - 2003-10-09

Israel is planning to renew its policy of deporting Palestinian militants who supported terror attacks and their families from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli army says it has decided to move against Palestinian Islamic groups in the West Bank by expelling some of their members, relatives and supporters to the Gaza Strip, about 50 kilometers away.

Among those likely to be exiled are about 25 Palestinian militants arrested this week, most of them members and leaders of the Islamic Jihad in the West Bank town of Jenin.

The organization took responsibility for the suicide bombing that killed at least 19 people Saturday in the port city of Haifa.

This week, Israeli security forces arrested four Islamic Jihad activists who they say were on their way to carry out suicide bombings.

In reaction to such threats, Israel has declared it will not allow Palestinian cars to travel on roads in large parts of the West Bank until further notice. The only exception will be for humanitarian cases.

In addition, Israel has closed the West Bank and Gaza Strip until October 22, several days after the end of the Jewish Succot holiday. The decision prevents thousands of Palestinian workers from crossing into Israel to reach their jobs.

Israel also is organizing the deployment of more troops in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Israel's defense minister, Shaul Mofaz, has ordered the rapid call-up of about 800 reserve soldiers, who are expected to be stationed in the territories beginning next week.