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Tuesday, 29 January, 2002, 07:55 GMT
Suspected militants arrested in raid
An Israeli tank near Ramallah
Israel has raided West Bank areas before
Israeli forces have raided a Palestinian-controlled village near the West Bank town of Bethlehem, arresting three suspected militants.

Palestinian security officials said Israeli troops and tanks entered the village of Irtas before dawn on Tuesday, where they were fired upon by Palestinians.

Police search a Palestinian
Security in Jerusalem is tight after recent attacks
Four Palestinians were wounded in the gunfight.

The soldiers withdrew after three hours.

The Israeli army said it had arrested a senior member of the Islamic Jihad group and two other Palestinians suspected of being involved in "terror activities".

Islamic Jihad is one of the groups which has carried out suicide bomb attacks in Israeli cities.

Security plan

Tuesday's incursion came two days after a Palestinian woman blew herself up in Jerusalem, killing an elderly Israeli.

Last week, a Palestinian opened fire in the same street, killing two women and wounding other civilians before he was shot dead by police.

Israel's Public Security Minister, Uzi Landau, is to submit a plan on Tuesday aimed at preventing Palestinian militants infiltrating Jerusalem from the West Bank.

A funeral for a victim of the Jerusalem attacks
Feelings are running high as the cycle of violence continues
A BBC correspondent in Jerusalem says tension in the city is high.

In another development, Palestinian police have formally arrested a Palestinian Authority official suspected of being involved in smuggling a shipment of weapons seized by Israel earlier this month.

Fuad Shobaki was moved from house arrest to a prison in Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's West Bank compound.

The move followed strong criticism of Mr Arafat by American Vice-President Dick Cheney.

He accused the Palestinian leader of knowing in advance about the attempt to smuggle arms with the help of the Lebanese militant group, Hezbollah, which America considers a terrorist organisation.

Intense pressure

The Palestinian leader has denied any knowledge of the shipment.

Mr Arafat is under intense pressure from Israel and Washington to control Palestinian militants.

But Palestinian officials have said the only way out of the current cycle of violence is for the United States to send its envoy, Anthony Zinni, back to the region as soon as possible.

The BBC's Caroline Wyatt in Jerusalem
"Security in the city is tighter than ever"
See also:

28 Jan 02 | Middle East
Palestinian official held over arms ship
26 Jan 02 | Middle East
Arafat urges end to attacks
23 Jan 02 | Middle East
Rounding up Palestinian militants
22 Jan 02 | Middle East
Militant released after Israeli raid
25 Jan 02 | Middle East
US 'proves' Palestinian arms link
05 Jan 02 | Middle East
Arms row mars peace mission
15 Jan 02 | Middle East
Analysis: The CIA and the arms ship
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