Archive for Sunday, October 7, 2001

Arafat criticizes Palestinian gunmen

October 7, 2001

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— In a rare public criticism of Palestinian militants, Yasser Arafat's Cabinet has demanded gunmen stop attacking Israel, saying they have violated the Mideast truce and damaged Palestinian interests.

In a further sign of Palestinian efforts to calm tensions, Palestinian police arrested on Saturday at least two militants wanted by Israel in what they said was a new policy to rein in anti-Israeli groups.

Several days of heavy fighting have greatly undermined a Mideast cease-fire announced 10 days ago after both sides came under considerable pressure by the United States.

Neither Israel nor the Palestinians wants to be blamed for the failure of the truce, and the Palestinian statement was intended to show Arafat remained supportive of the cease-fire.

Israel has insisted that the Palestinian leader also arrest Palestinian militants, handing to the Palestinians a list of more than 100. On Saturday, the Palestinians seemed ready to comply with the demand when Palestinian police sought out members of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in the West Bank.

Among those arrested were a senior Hamas official in the city of Tulkarem, Abbas Sayed, and a member of Islamic Jihad in Nablus, Anas Shrateh, a senior Palestinian official said on condition of anonymity. Police attempted also to arrest Hamas activist Deya Darwazeh, but he fled his home in Nablus.

The arrests are part of a new Palestinian policy to crack down on militants, the official said.

In violence Saturday, at least six Israeli tanks moved into Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank city of Hebron after an exchange of fire in the area. The tanks, accompanied by two bulldozers, moved into the Shreef Hill, Aroman Hill and Wad Haria neighborhoods of the city.

Six Palestinians were injured when the tanks fired at least three shells.

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