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Thirty-three PFLP members arrested

Bethlehem
Palestinians shoot in the air as they march towards Bethlehem's Manger Square for the funeral procession of militant Atif Abayyat  


JERUSALEM (CNN) -- The Palestinian Authority has arrested 33 members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in the past 48 hours.

The move came after the group claimed it was behind the assassination of hardline Israeli cabinet member Rechavam Zeevi Wednesday.

Twenty members of the PFLP were arrested in the West Bank city of Ramallah Friday, Palestinian sources told CNN.

That comes in addition to 13 PFLP members arrested overnight in Gaza, according to Palestinian Security sources.

Israel has been pressing the Palestinian Authority to arrest those responsible for Zeevi's death.

Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said everything is being done to solve Zeevi's murder.

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Israel demands Palestinians hand over those responsible for Zeevi's killing. CNN's Mike Hanna reports (October 19)

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"Every effort is being exerted by the Palestinian Authority by President Arafat to bring those who killed Mr. Zeevi to justice under Palestinian law," Erakat told CNN. "We need to come back to the negotiating table immediately without condition because this is the only way to save the lives of Palestinians and Israelis."

Across the West Bank and Gaza Friday, five Palestinians were killed and seven others injured.

And at Rachel's Tomb near Bethlehem, three Israeli soldiers were injured, one of them seriously, after Israeli tanks rolled into the Palestinian-controlled area.

Israeli tanks went into the Bethlehem area after what the Israel Defense Forces said was shooting from Beit Jala at the Jewish enclave of Gilo.

Palestinian sources said the Israeli troops met with stiff resistance as they entered Bethlehem. The Palestine Red Crescent said a 26-year-old Palestinian woman died after she was shot in the chest. In addition, they said, a Palestinian man was killed in Bethlehem.

At the Aida refugee camp, a 20-year-old Palestinian man was killed by a live bullet which struck him in the neck.

Seven other Palestinians were wounded in fighting at Bethlehem, the Red Crescent said.

The Red Crescent said that a 13-year-old boy had been killed in Gaza when he picked up a tank shell.

They said a 26-year-old Palestinian was shot in the chest and killed in a firefight with Israeli forces at Erez Crossing, and another Palestinian was killed in fighting with Israeli forces in Ramallah.

Tanks and troops moved about 300 meters into the Palestinian-controlled city of Bethlehem Friday, taking up positions they withdrew from six weeks ago as part of a truce agreement.

The Paradise Hotel and the Bethlehem Hotel were partially demolished by bulldozers, and the owners were arrested. The Intercontinental Hotel was taken over by the Israeli army, Palestinian officials added.

The Aida Palestinian refugee camp has been taken over by an Israeli infantry unit.

Four people were wounded, Palestinian police and Red Crescent officials said.

Israel Defense Forces said the troop movements were necessary security measures, but Palestinians described them as military aggression.

Tensions remain high in Bethlehem after thousands of mourners, some with AK-47 assault rifles, gathered in Manger Square Friday for the funeral procession of Atif Abayyat, a local leader of the Tanzim militia, The Associated Press reported.

The al-Aqsa brigades, which are linked to Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction, issued leaflets during the procession threatening to avenge Abayyat's killing.

Abayyat died, along with two others, in a car explosion in Bethlehem Thursday.

He was on Israel's most-wanted list after being blamed for killing several Israel civilians.

Saeb Erakat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, told CNN the Palestinian Authority strongly condemned the killing of Abayyat and the two others as an act of state terror. The Israeli government denied the accusation.

Israeli tanks also rolled into the West Bank flashpoint town of Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, taking control of hills and houses amid gunfire, Friday.

An Israeli civilian was killed by Palestinian gunmen, and two others injured, Friday near the West Bank city of Jericho during a tour of the Judean desert.

Palestinian official Nabil Abu Rdeneh denounced the incursions and called on the United States to intervene and "put an end to this continuous Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people," the AP added.

Israeli Justice Minister Meir Sheetrit said Israel had no intention of holding on to Palestinian territory but had to "stop Palestinian attacks against Israel," the AP reported.



 
 
 
 


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