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Friday, 31 January, 2003, 12:56 GMT
West Bank violence flares up
Israeli troops search Hamas offices in Hebron
The Israeli operation in Hebron is open-ended
The Israeli army has shot dead a Hamas militant in the northern town of Jenin in the latest violence to hit the West Bank.

A second Palestinian died in the fighting which erupted when Israeli soldiers tried to arrest the suspect at a fire station in the town.

Palestinian boy throws stone at Israeli tank in Hebron
Israel has saturated Hebron with tanks and armoured vehicles
Local people said the second man was killed by Israeli fire while the army says he was shot by the man they were trying to arrest.

At the other end of the West Bank, army engineers blew up two houses in Hebron where a curfew has been enforced in Israel's first major security operation since Tuesday's election.

The Hamas fighter killed in Jenin was named by Jenin's mayor as 23-year-old Iyad Abu Lel.

Gun battles were also reported to have taken place all over Jenin after Israeli forces entered during the night.

Crackdown

Troops searching for militants in Hebron have now made seven arrests.

The practice of house demolitions is aimed at deterring future attackers, the Israeli army says, while human rights groups decry it as collective punishment.

Army bulldozers also crushed some 100 stalls in the town's central market, Palestinian sources said.

Israeli radio said the Hebron operation could last several days and was in response to recent violence in the area including the killing of three soldiers a week earlier.

The biblical town is home to about 600 Jewish settlers out of a population of about 120,000.

Eighteen Israelis have been killed in ambushes in the Hebron area since 15 November 2002, in addition to the soldiers killed last Thursday, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports.

On Thursday, the Israeli army reported killing two suspected Palestinian militants in the West Bank, and a further three in the Gaza Strip.


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30 Jan 03 | Middle East
12 Feb 02 | Middle East
23 Jan 03 | Middle East
19 Nov 02 | Middle East
31 Jan 03 | Middle East
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