Israeli Troops Withdrawn From Beit Reema Near Ramallah

Israeli troops were withdrawn from the Arab village of Beit Reema near Ramallah last night. The troops were deployed there in the early hours of Wednesday to conduct a special operation. According to Israeli reports, the primary objective of the operation was to arrest activists of radical Islamic organisations involved in terrorist activities. Reportedly, two Palestinians allegedly involved in the assassination of Rehavam Ze'evi,the leader of the Israeli right-wing party and the Tourism Minister, were arrested. One of the detainees is a Beit Reema resident, the second one lives in the Arab village of Azaria near Jerusalem. According to Israeli information, six Palestinians were killed in heavy fighting which occurred during the operation. The Palestinian side insists that the shooting claimed ten lives. The Palestinians claim that members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine involved in the assassination of Ze'evi, were arrested several days ago in Azaria where they were hiding. Now, Palestinian officials claim, Israel has made the arrests public in order to justify its operation in Beit Reema. The Beit Reema operation resulted in the arrest of more than ten Palestinians and the destruction of three houses which belonged to activists of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the organisation which has taken responsibility for Ze'evi's assassination. Last night Israel conducted the so-called "mopping up operation" in the Tulkarem town on the Western Bank of the Jordan River. Israel deployed its parashute troops in the "zone A" which is totally controlled by the Palestinian National Authority under the Norwegian agreements. Some sources report that paratroopers searched the streets as far as the office of the Tulkarem Mayor. Several Palestinians were arrested. In the morning, the troops returned to their initial positions. Clashes between Israeli servicemen and Palestinians within the Palestinian National Authority continued throughout last night. One of them, which occurred in the vicinity of the Mother Rahel's (Rachel) Tomb near Bethlehem, left one Israeli officer wounded. Clashes on the Western Bank of the Jordan River occurred in several districts of Ramallah and Qalqilia. The Jewish settlement of Gush Katif located in the Gaza Strip, came under mortar fire. No casualties were reported.

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