Israeli forces raided a mental hospital in the West Bank town of Bethlehem early Thursday and arrested 12 wanted Palestinian militants.
Witnesses said Palestinian militants holed up inside the building fought a brief gunbattle with Israeli soldiers. There were no reports of casualties.
Israeli military sources say the militants were suspected of planning terrorist attacks against the Jewish state.
Meanwhile, a team of U.S. envoys ( U.S. Assistant Secretary of State william Burns and White House officials Stephen Hadley and Elliot Abrams) is expected to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders Thursday.
The talks are expected to focus on Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to unilaterally remove almost all Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip and some from the West Bank.
Wednesday, Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qureia cautiously welcomed a possible Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Speaking at the Palestinian parliament he said the pull out should extend to the West Bank and include a resumption of the internationally-backed peace process. Mr. Qureia also used strong language to condemn suicide bombings. He said they are an obstacle to peace and have harmed the Palestinian cause internationally, damaged the economy, and given Israel an excuse for military incursions.
Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.