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Monday, 3 December, 2001, 13:14 GMT
Israel holds crisis talks
Wreckage of the bus bombed in Haifa
The bus bomb came hours after the Jerusalem attack
Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has begun a series of high-level meetings to decide Israel's response to the deadly wave of Palestinian bombings over the weekend.

Mr Sharon went straight into session with his inner cabinet at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport after arriving back in Israel from talks in Washington with President George W Bush, which were cut short because of the attacks.

Palestinian crackdown
Palestinian police arrest more than 100 militants
Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin reported under house arrest
Palestinian Authority declares state of emergency

He is due to speak to the nation in a televised address later in the day, before holding a full cabinet meeting.

In a first step, the Israeli army tightened its blockade around Palestinian towns and villages in the West Bank, while the Palestinian Authority declared a state of emergency in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Palestinian security forces are reported to have arrested over 100 militants on the West Bank and Gaza amid intense international pressure on Yasser Arafat to take decisive action against radical Palestinian groups.

Israeli crackdown
Ariel Sharon flies home early for emergency meetings
Blockade tightened on West Bank
Israeli army erects new checkpoints
Palestinian sources said most of those arrested belong to the militant Islamic movement Hamas, which said it carried out suicide attacks on Saturday and Sunday which killed 25 Israelis and wounded scores more.

About 1,000 Hamas supporters marched through Gaza at the funeral of a Palestinian gunman on Monday, defying a ban by the Palestinian Authority.

The demonstrators fired automatic weapons into the air and called for more attacks against Israel.

In Egypt, meanwhile, the highest authority in Sunni Islam, Sheikh Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi, condemned suicide bombings, saying Islam rejected the killing of innocent people.

Reaction awaited

The Israeli cabinet and security chiefs will discuss the scale and scope of the Israeli military response to the suicide bombings.

The Palestinian Authority has declared a state of emergency
Palestinian police arrest a suspected militant
The BBC's Jeremy Cooke in Jerusalem says the Palestinian Authority is trying to convince both the Israelis and the outside world that it is finally making a serious effort to bring the extremists under control.

He says the arrests of militants in the West Bank and Gaza have happened before, only for those detained to be released after a few days.

This time, the Israelis will demand that things are different, setting the Palestinian leadership a difficult, perhaps impossible task, says our correspondent.

Mr Arafat must convince the Israeli leadership that he is serious about the crackdown on extremists.

He also knows that groups such as Islamic Jihad and Hamas are hugely popular among his own people.

US muted

Ariel Sharon
Sharon cut short a visit to the United States
US President George W Bush, who met Mr Sharon in Washington on Sunday, said Mr Arafat "must do everything in his power to find those who murdered innocent Israelis and bring them to justice".

Significantly, the US did not even issue its usual public appeal to Israel to show restraint.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell said he told Mr Arafat the Palestinian leader was facing a "moment of truth" as the bombings were also attacks on his authority over the Palestinians.



WEEKEND ATTACKS:
  • Saturday night: Suicide attacks and car bomb in Jerusalem kill at least 10
  • Sunday: Two gunmen kill Israeli in Gaza
  • Suspected gunmen pursued and killed by Israeli forces
  • Suicide bomber kills at least 15 on bus in Haifa
  • Four Palestinians shot dead in gun battle in Jenin
  • Monday: Fifth Palestinian shot dead by Israeli soldiers in Jenin

  • And, in what the BBC's Washington correspondent says is a sign that American criticism of Israeli tactics will be muted, US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said any Israeli action should be seen not as revenge, but as self-defence.

    At the same time, a senior Palestinian security source told the BBC that, if Israel engages in punitive retaliation, then no-one will be able to rein in the militants.

    In continuing violence, Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian near the West Bank town of Jenin on Monday morning.

    The army said it believed he was trying to plant a bomb, but Palestinian sources said he was a farmer going to work.

    Hours earlier, Israeli soldiers shot dead four Palestinians in a gun battle near Jenin.

    The military said the men were planning to carry out another attack in Israel.

     WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    The BBC's Orla Guerin
    "Israelis are calling on their government for tough action"
    Michael Melchior, Israeli foreign ministry
    "We have not seen he has arrested the central people"
    Jibril Al-Rajoub, West Bank security chief
    "We are one people; we have one authority"
    The BBC's Tom Heap
    "One of the bloodiest 24 hours in Israel's recent history"
    See also:

    03 Dec 01 | Middle East
    Who are Hamas?
    03 Dec 01 | Middle East
    US diplomacy put to the test
    02 Dec 01 | Middle East
    In pictures: Israel blasts
    29 Mar 01 | Profiles
    Who are the suicide bombers?
    01 Dec 01 | Middle East
    Israel's history of bomb blasts
    02 Dec 01 | Middle East
    Eyewitness: Jerusalem bomb horror
    02 Dec 01 | Middle East
    Viewpoint: Ball in Arafat's court
    03 Dec 01 | Middle East
    Analysis: Arafat's 'moment of truth'
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