Palestinian security forces arrest Islamic Jihad militants a day after attack


Saturday, December 29th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6



JERUSALEM (AP) _ Palestinian police arrested two suspected Islamic Jihad militants on Saturday, sources said, a move that came a day after a member of the radical group was killed in an attack against Israeli troops.

The two Islamic Jihad men were detained and their weapons confiscated in Gaza City, in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian security sources said without divulging additional details.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat called for an end to attacks against Israel two weeks ago, and since then, there has been a sharp decline in violence. The Palestinian security forces have also arrested suspected militants, but the Israelis have demanded that Arafat take even stronger action.

In one of the most serious incidents in the past two weeks, a pair of Islamic Jihad militants attempted to carry out an attack near the Jewish settlement of Netzarim in the central Gaza Strip.

The two, carrying anti-tank missiles, a Kalashnikov assault rifle and ammunition fired on Israeli soldiers on patrol in the area, the Israeli army said. Soldiers returned fire, killing one assailant and sending the other fleeing.

The dead man, Mahmoud Burai, was wearing an explosives belt. In a videotape he made before the attack, Burai, 23, said he was preparing for a suicide mission. The tape was aired on the Lebanese TV station Al Manar after Friday's attack.

Ignoring Arafat's call for calm, Islamic Jihad said in a statement released in Beirut, Lebanon, that it remained committed to ``holy war and resistance.''

Several hundred mourners attended Burai's funeral Saturday in the Jebaliya refugee camp on the outskirts of Gaza City.

In another development Saturday, dozens of Western protesters and Palestinian students laid down on a road next to an Israeli military checkpoint near the West Bank town of Ramallah.

Soldiers responded with tear gas, driving away the demonstrators, who were demanding the lifting of the checkpoint outside Bir Zeit University, the leading Palestinian university. No injuries or arrests were reported.

Israel said Friday it was lifting a blockade of Bethlehem, just south of Jerusalem. But soldiers remained Saturday at the checkpoints on the edge of the town, examining the identity documents of Palestinians and everyone else seeking to enter or leave the town.

The Palestinian Cabinet met Friday night and called on the United States to send its special mediator, retired Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni, back to the region as soon as possible to oversee confidence-building measures that would lead to an eventual resumption of peace talks.

Israel TV's Channel Two said Zinni was expected to return to the Middle East next week if there was no major outburst of violence. Zinni left the region in mid- December, after a failed three-week truce mission that saw a sharp increase in violence. The U.S. State Department would not comment on Zinni's possible return.

Also, Secretary of State Colin Powell called Arafat late Friday and said that Washington would continue to push for the renewal of peace talks, Arafat's office said.

GREG MYRE

Associated Press Writer


JERUSALEM (AP) _ Palestinian police arrested two suspected Islamic Jihad militants on Saturday, sources said, a move that came a day after a member of the radical group was killed in an attack against Israeli troops.

The two Islamic Jihad men were detained and their weapons confiscated in Gaza City, in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian security sources said without divulging additional details.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat called for an end to attacks against Israel two weeks ago, and since then, there has been a sharp decline in violence. The Palestinian security forces have also arrested suspected militants, but the Israelis have demanded that Arafat take even stronger action.

In one of the most serious incidents in the past two weeks, a pair of Islamic Jihad militants attempted to carry out an attack near the Jewish settlement of Netzarim in the central Gaza Strip.

The two, carrying anti-tank missiles, a Kalashnikov assault rifle and ammunition fired on Israeli soldiers on patrol in the area, the Israeli army said. Soldiers returned fire, killing one assailant and sending the other fleeing.

The dead man, Mahmoud Burai, was wearing an explosives belt. In a videotape he made before the attack, Burai, 23, said he was preparing for a suicide mission. The tape was aired on the Lebanese TV station Al Manar after Friday's attack.

Ignoring Arafat's call for calm, Islamic Jihad said in a statement released in Beirut, Lebanon, that it remained committed to ``holy war and resistance.''

Several hundred mourners attended Burai's funeral Saturday in the Jebaliya refugee camp on the outskirts of Gaza City.

In another development Saturday, dozens of Western protesters and Palestinian students laid down on a road next to an Israeli military checkpoint near the West Bank town of Ramallah.

Soldiers responded with tear gas, driving away the demonstrators, who were demanding the lifting of the checkpoint outside Bir Zeit University, the leading Palestinian university. No injuries or arrests were reported.

Israel said Friday it was lifting a blockade of Bethlehem, just south of Jerusalem. But soldiers remained Saturday at the checkpoints on the edge of the town, examining the identity documents of Palestinians and everyone else seeking to enter or leave the town.

The Palestinian Cabinet met Friday night and called on the United States to send its special mediator, retired Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni, back to the region as soon as possible to oversee confidence-building measures that would lead to an eventual resumption of peace talks.

Israel TV's Channel Two said Zinni was expected to return to the Middle East next week if there was no major outburst of violence. Zinni left the region in mid- December, after a failed three-week truce mission that saw a sharp increase in violence. The U.S. State Department would not comment on Zinni's possible return.

Also, Secretary of State Colin Powell called Arafat late Friday and said that Washington would continue to push for the renewal of peace talks, Arafat's office said.