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Tuesday, 4 February, 2003, 16:47 GMT
Israel seizes suspected militant
A wounded man is brought to hospital after the Otniel attack in December 2002
Israel accuses the suspects of involvement in a December attack
Israeli forces have seized a man they say is a member of an Islamic Jihad militant cell responsible for the deaths of at least 16 Israelis since November.

The man, Bader Aymouni, was detained in connection with a series of attacks including a November shooting spree in Hebron that left 12 Israelis dead and a December attack in which four students were killed.

The Shin Bet security service said Mr Aymouni was the 17th person to be arrested who is linked with the cell. Three people, including alleged leader Diab Shweiki, are still at large.

Israel has tried twice to assassinate Mr Shweiki, failing both times, according to the Israeli daily Ha'aretz.

Suspects in custody have reportedly confessed to involvement in the two attacks, which they said were ordered from Syria, according to Israeli security sources.

Shootings

Separately, Israeli troops shot a 13-year-old Palestinian boy who threw stones and a firebomb at them in the West Bank town of Tulkarm.

Palestinian sources said the youth was in a critical condition after being shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet.

Streets of Hebron
Hebron has long been a flashpoint for violence
Also, a Jewish man was seriously wounded in a shooting attack in the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli army is searching for the assailants who shot the 27-year-old near the Gaza settlement of Kfar Darom and escaped.

Israeli tanks and bulldozers demolished five buildings in the Gaza refugee camp of Rafah after forcing residents to evacuate them.

The army did not explain why it demolished the houses.

It also destroyed the house of a militant who shot an Israeli dead last year before being killed himself by security forces.

Seven people took possessions from the home of militant Said Hanani before the army blew it up, Ha'aretz reported.

Funds transfer

Meanwhile in a sign of co-operation, Israel transferred almost $60m to the Palestinian Authority, PA Finance Minister Salam Fayyed said on Tuesday.

Israel collects tax money for the Palestinian Authority under the terms of the Oslo Agreement, but has largely withheld it since the outbreak of the intifada, saying it is used to finance terrorism.

The sum is the largest amount that Israel has transferred since fighting began more than two years ago.

Mr Fayyed said he expected Israel to make regular payments now.

Mr Fayyed, a former IMF official, joined the PA last year in response to international demands for greater transparency and accountability in Palestinian financial affairs.


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27 Dec 02 | Middle East
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