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Saturday, 22 June, 2002, 10:05 GMT 11:05 UK
Israel tightens grip in West Bank
Palestinian policemen arrested in Hebron
Israeli troops have arrested dozens of Palestinians
The Israeli security cabinet has confirmed that the army will remain in reoccupied Palestinian areas for as long as necessary to stop further attacks on Israelis.

The Israeli Defence Force's incursions in West Bank towns were approved by the cabinet on Friday.

Map of six Palestinian towns raided by Israeli forces
The offensive is a response to Palestinian suicide bombings in Jerusalem and an attack on the Jewish settlement of Itamar in the West Bank which have killed 36 Israelis in the past week.

The Israeli daily Haaretz said the new policy was a compromise between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's proposal that the IDF remain in the towns "for a prolonged period of time" and Defence Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer's position that the operation should be limited to the period needed to achieve results.

Jenin 'mistake'

The army has admitted that it accidentally opened fire on a crowded market in the West Bank town of Jenin, killing at least three Palestinian civilians. But it stopped short of making an apology.

Palestinian hospital sources said five people were killed, including three young children, and many others were injured.

Israeli armoured personnel carrier in Jenin
Palestinians say tank shells were fired at the Jenin market

It seems the people in Jenin mistakenly thought the curfew had been lifted and were rushing out to stock up on food supplies.

An army spokesman said troops in Jenin had fired a number of tank shells to scare off a crowd that had broken the curfew.

"As a result of the shooting three Palestinians were killed and 10 others were wounded. An initial inquiry indicates that the force erred in its action," the Israeli army said.

Further inquiries are being carried out, the army said.

The Palestinians say that at least two tank shells were fired into the crowded fruit and vegetable market. The Israelis are also said to have used a heavy machine gun.

Funeral violence

Violence also broke out after the funerals of five Jewish settlers - including three children and their mother - who were killed near the West Bank town of Nablus on Thursday night.

House attacked by Palestinian gunmen on Thursday
Five settlers were killed in Itamar
Mourners are reported to have gone on the rampage through an Arab village, firing guns and setting cars alight. One Palestinian man is said to have been killed.

Israeli troops and tanks moved in force into Nablus, a few hours after the killings.

In the Gaza Strip, three Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli border guards near a crossing point, and a young Palestinian boy was killed by Israeli tank fire.

Also in the Gaza Strip, one Israeli was wounded in a shooting incident at the Netzarim Jewish settlement.

The BBC's Paul Wood
"Israeli troops are in total control across the West Bank"

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See also:

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