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EU leader: Arafat pledges to fight terrorism

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana
European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana  


JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Yasser Arafat pledged to fight terrorism and crack down on organizations that support it, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said after meeting Tuesday with the Palestinian Authority president.

"I have seen a strategic decision by the leaders of the Palestinian Authority to work against terrorism. I think that is a very, very important decision," said Solana, who also met with leaders of Palestinian security in Gaza and the West Bank and with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Earlier Tuesday, top political sources in Israel told CNN they saw indications the Palestinian Authority was taking action against terrorism.

The sources, who asked not to be named, said Israeli officials told U.S. Middle East envoy Anthony Zinni at a security meeting they saw the first signs of action by the Palestinian Authority to prevent terrorist acts.

They said forces that had given Hamas and Islamic Jihad a free hand were being moved, people were being stopped and arrests were being made.

The actions, the sources said, apparently were in response to a European Union message Monday that labeled Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad "terrorist networks."

Zinni convened the meeting Tuesday between Israeli and Palestinian security officials. He is attempting to win a halt in the violence as a prelude to adoption of a cease-fire in the region.

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The Organization of the Islamic Conference held an emergency summit in Qatar to discuss the latest round of Mideast violence. CNN's James Martone reports (December 11)

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The Israeli sources who spoke to CNN said the Israeli government was waiting to determine whether the actions by the Palestinian Authority would continue in a meaningful way.

Despite the intense diplomatic activity, there was violence in the region throughout the day.

Two attacks by Israeli helicopters killed four people in the town of Khan Younis in Gaza late Tuesday, Palestinian security officials said.

In the first attack, helicopters fired three rockets at a building, the officials said. Two people were killed and seven were injured, Palestinian hospital sources said.

Not long after, Israeli gunships fired on a Palestinian police patrol vehicle, killing two and injuring four, Palestinian officials said. There was no immediate comment from Israeli officials.

Tuesday's strikes were the latest in a cycle of attack and retaliation that began when Palestinian suicide bombers killed 25 Israelis in Jerusalem and Haifa the weekend of December 1-2.

Israel has responded to a spate of mortar attacks and terrorist bombings with airstrikes against the Palestinian Authority and other targets in the West Bank and Gaza.

Early Tuesday, Israeli helicopters struck targets in Beit Hanun in northern Gaza, Palestinian sources said.

Witnesses identified the Gaza targets as a building housing Arafat's personal guard, Force 17, and another building belonging to the Palestinian intelligence service. No injuries were reported.

The Israel Defense Forces reported on its Web site it had conducted the attack early Tuesday. An IDF spokesperson said "IDF will continue to use all measures at its disposal in order to enforce the safety of Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers."

Also on Tuesday, Israeli troops killed two Palestinians at a military checkpoint near Tulkarem in the West Bank. Israeli military sources said two Palestinians tried to run a roadblock in a car and failed to stop after a number of warning shots.

An unidentified Palestinian witness said the two men left their car and were running toward an olive grove. No shots were heard until after the men entered the grove, he said.



 
 
 
 


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