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Tuesday, 28 May, 2002, 16:28 GMT 17:28 UK
Israeli troops raid Jenin
Israeli tanks and jeeps enter Bethlehem
Israel troops moved into several towns
The Israeli army has arrested a number of Palestinian militants - including a local commander of the militant group Hamas - on a brief incursion into the West Bank town of Jenin.

The incursion, which was reported over around midday on Tuesday, followed a Palestinian suicide attack that killed two Israelis, one of them a baby, and injured more than 30 others in the town of Petah Tikva outside Tel Aviv.

Israeli tanks, supported by helicopters, moved into Jenin early on Tuesday, sparking clashes with Palestinian gunmen, according to local witnesses. One Palestinian was reportedly killed in the exchange of fire.

We will not stop our operations as long as the occupation continues in our land

Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades statement
It was the second such incursion by Israel since it occupied the Palestinian refugee camp there last month.

Israeli radio said the army arrested the new Hamas commander in Jenin, Rami Awad, as well as activists from Islamic Jihad and Fatah.

In another move, the United States on Tuesday said that US envoy William Burns and CIA Director George Tenet would travel this week to the Middle East for consultations with regional leaders.

But Secretary of State Colin Powell played down expectations that Washington was about to table a specific plan with deadlines to revive the stalled Middle East peace process.

Bomber identified

The Israeli army's move into Jenin came only hours after the Tel Aviv suicide attack. The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades admitted it carried out the attack, saying it was to avenge the death of three militants killed by Israel last week.

On Monday, the army also reoccupied and declared a curfew in the city of Qalqilya, tightened its encirclement of Tulkarm and swept back into Bethlehem, making several arrests.

Israeli policeman searching after Petah Tikva blast
Security men searched the debris for clues
Palestinian sources named the Tel Aviv bomber as Jihad Titi - the 18-year-old nephew of al-Aqsa leader Mahmoud Titi who was killed in shelling last week.

Jihad Titi's mother said her son visited the grave of his cousin several days ago, and said he would avenge him within a week.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said: "The leadership asks Palestinian people and all Palestinian groups to declare their clear position against this kind of operation. It gives the Israeli army reasons to continue their aggression and occupation."

Bomb blast

The bomber detonated his explosives outside an ice cream parlour and coffee shop at the entrance to a shopping centre in the Em Hamoshavot district.

Israeli troops around Qalqilya
Israel is keeping up the pressure on Qalqilya
Taxi driver Haim Hayak, 43, was standing near the coffee shop when the bomb was detonated.

"I ran here. I saw children screaming. There was a lot of blood. There were children on the floor," he said.

Witnesses said a crowd gathered around the floodlit area chanting: "Death to the Arabs".

Pinpoint policy

Israel says it is not about to launch a large new offensive but will stick to its current strategy of pinpoint operations against suspected Palestinian militants.

On Monday, Israeli armoured vehicles drove into Bethlehem's Manger Square, sealing off the area and placing it under curfew. It was the second such incursion in two days.

Dozens of Palestinians were seized in house-to-house searches, including the local head of al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades is an armed offshoot of Yasser Arafat's mainstream Fatah movement, and has been at the forefront of attacks against Israel during the 20-month Palestinian intifada, or uprising against Israeli occupation.

The BBC's Orla Guerin in Petah Tikva
"With every suicide bombing the world cares less about Palestinian suffering"

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