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 Wednesday, 15 January, 2003, 20:59 GMT
Bloodshed unabated in West Bank
Hamas member's house being demolished in Silwan
The demolitions are the first such in Jerusalem
Israeli forces have killed least three Palestinians in clashes in the West Bank.

They also began demolishing homes in East Jerusalem belonging to Palestinians convicted of orchestrating a string of deadly suicide bombings.

The Islamic University in Hebron and another college in the West Bank city were also closed, as part of Israel's response to a recent suicide attack in Tel Aviv.

Sharon's answer to the London conference came this morning, with more killing and destruction

Saeb Erekat
The killings are the latest in a surge of bloodshed during Israel's election campaign, which has seen Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's standing battered by corruption allegations.

However, the right-wing leader has extended his lead in the most recent opinion polls, two weeks before the elections.

Pollsters gave his Likud party 33 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, up from a low of 29 seats predicted last week.

Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat accused Mr Sharon of escalating the situation amid the latest efforts by Palestinians and the international community to revive peace talks.

"Sharon's answer to the London conference came this morning, with more killing and destruction," said Mr Erekat, who - along with other Palestinian officials - was prevented by Israel from attending the talks after the latest attack.

West Bank bloodshed

Two Palestinian teenagers - both 16 years old were killed at a refugee camp in Tulkarm when Israeli troops raided the area.

Israeli police jeep outside Hebron's Islamic University
Israel described the University as a "hotbed for terrorism"
One was shot by troops after they said he detonated explosives at the entrance of the camp.

Palestinian residents said the army later killed the other when he violated a curfew. The army said he had thrown a firebomb at troops during a clash with stone-throwers.

The third Palestinian killed was a 44-year with psychological problems who had come out to watch a stand-off between troops and two suspected militants in a house in Qabatiya, near Jenin.

The man ignored warnings to stop, the army said, and he was shot because troops feared he had explosives strapped to his body and would attack them.

Attack responses

In East Jerusalem, Israeli authorities poured concrete into three houses, sealing them off, and set off explosives in a fourth, returning with bulldozers to demolish its completely.

Soldier searches Palestinian boy in Hebron
Hebron is under full Israeli control
Israel has demolished dozens of homes of Palestinian militants and suicide bombers - which is supposed to deter further attacks - but reports say this is the first time such action has been taken in Jerusalem.

The homes belonged to members of a Hamas cell which launched an attack on the Hebrew University last year, killing 35 people, including five Americans.

As Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, the attackers had not faced the same blanket travel restrictions imposed on their West Bank and Gazan compatriots.

In response to the most recent bomb attack, which targeted a poor, crowded area of Tel Aviv and claimed 23 victims, Israel closed Hebron's Islamic University and its Polytechnic College on Wednesday.

Some students belong to militant organisations, the army said, and use the facilities to plan attacks.

Stone-throwing clashes erupted between students and troops, who fired rubber-coated metal bullets at the demonstrators.

About 25 suspected militants have been arrested in the army's sweeps in the West Bank in the last 24 hours, reports said.


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13 Jan 03 | Middle East
12 Jan 03 | Middle East
14 Jan 03 | Politics
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