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Thursday, 21 March, 2002, 08:58 GMT
Israel in new West Bank raids
An Israeli bulldozer forms a roadblock on the road from Nablus leading to Jenin
The action came shortly after security talks broke down
Dozens of Palestinians have been arrested after Israeli tanks were sent into the West Bank in overnight raids.

An Israeli army statement said a member of the Islamic militant group Hamas was among detainees.

A soldier from Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's presidential guard had also been arrested, Palestinian officials said.

The action came shortly after senior Israeli and Palestinian security officials failed to agree on a ceasefire, despite intense US pressure.

The tanks entered three villages around Jenin in the so-called Sector A, which is meant to be entirely under Palestinian Authority control.

Reports quoting an army spokesman said troops withdrew once the sweeps were completed. Palestinian officials said soldiers remained on the outskirts of the villages, according to reports.

Along with the Hamas member, the Israelis arrested dozens of people suspected of what the army called "hostile terrorist activity".

Israeli radio reported that among the villages targeted was Tubas, the home of militants who shot and killed a soldier earlier this week.

Suspects were also detained in al-Yamun and Silat al-Harithiyah.

The latest breakdown of talks came as US peace envoy General Anthony Zinni continued to press for a truce.

I believe he [Arafat] can do a better job

US President George W Bush

BBC correspondents say US involvement does appear to be making a difference.

A further security meeting is expected in the next day or two.

Bush 'frustrated'

The talks, which were brokered by Mr Zinni, were overshadowed by a Palestinian suicide bomb attack on a bus in northern Israel that killed seven people.

The Palestinian Authority condemned the attack, while Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said he viewed it as "very grave".

Yasser Arafat
Arafat is under intense pressure to enforce a truce
Speaking after the attack near the Israeli Arab town of Umm el-Fahem, US President George W Bush said he was "frustrated" by the continuing violence.

Mr Bush said he felt Yasser Arafat "can do a better job" at reining in Palestinian militants.

US Vice-President Dick Cheney wound up a tour of the region without meeting Mr Arafat, who remains confined to the West Bank town of Ramallah.

Urge for restraint

But the Americans are dangling the prospect of a meeting with Mr Cheney if the Palestinian leader does more to rein in the violence.

The suicide bombing came hours after the Palestinian Authority said it was "fully ready" to implement the US-brokered truce plan and steps towards resuming peace talks with Israel.

The Palestinian leadership urged Palestinians to "refrain from carrying out any operations against civilians inside Israel".

Mr Sharon said the bombing showed Mr Arafat had "not relinquished his policy of terrorism".

Four Israeli soldiers were among the seven passengers who died in the rush-hour bombing as the bus travelled from Tel Aviv to Nazareth.

The BBC's Orla Guerin
"Even the simplest bus ride means running a risk"
See also:

20 Mar 02 | Middle East
Cheney offers olive branch to Arafat
20 Mar 02 | Middle East
Analysis: Blast hits Israeli Arabs
16 Feb 02 | Middle East
Israel's history of bomb blasts
02 Dec 01 | profiles
Who are the suicide bombers?
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