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Last Updated: Friday, 9 December 2005, 11:48 GMT
Israel rounds up 19 'militants'
Palestinians at Qalandiya crossing
A key crossing is shut following an attack on an Israeli soldier
Israel arrested 19 Palestinian militants in raids across the West Bank overnight, the army says.

It comes as funerals are being held for two Palestinians who were killed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza on Thursday.

A funeral is also being held for an Israeli soldier who was stabbed to death by a Palestinian at a checkpoint between Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Israel has vowed to crackdown on militant groups after a suicide bombing in Netanya on Monday that killed five.

Ten of those arrested overnight were members of the Islamic Jihad movement, which carried out the attack, the army said.

They were rounded up in the northern Tulkarm region where the bomber hailed from.

Spiralling violence

Meanwhile, diplomats from the quartet of nations, responsible for drawing up the so-called Middle East roadmap, are meeting in Jerusalem.

They are discussing ways of implementing a deal, brokered by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, to open up access routes between Gaza and the West Bank.

Israel halted talks on possible bus convoys between the two Palestinian areas on Thursday following Monday's attack.

Earlier this week, the Israeli army carried out air strikes on suspected militants in Gaza.

They reportedly killed Mahmoud Arkan, a member of the Popular Resistance Committees armed group, in a strike in Rafah, in southern Gaza, on Wednesday.

And they targeted members of the militant group al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in a strike on a house in northern Gaza on Thursday, Palestinian witnesses said.

Hospital officials named the two killed as Iyad Qaddas and Iyad Najar. A third al-Aqsa militant was among those injured, medics said, as well as a young girl.

Israeli sources said on Friday the Qalandiya checkpoint between Jerusalem and the West Bank was remaining closed "until a new order was issued".

It followed an attack on a 20-year-old soldier on Thursday. He was stabbed in the back of the head by a Palestinian man, dying instantly, the army said.

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