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Violence Continues in Middle East.

By Meredith Buel (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli soldiers have shot and killed a Palestinian activist in the West Bank city of Hebron. The killing followed an Israeli military buildup near Palestinian villages around Bethlehem.

Palestinians said Imad Abu Sneineh, a member of Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat's Fatah movement, was gunned down by undercover Israeli soldiers near his home in Hebron. Palestinian officials are calling the killing an assassination.

Israeli military sources say the man was wanted for organizing attacks on Jewish settlers in Hebron.

Palestinians accuse Israel of assassinating more than 50 activists since the uprising against Israeli occupation began last September. Israel says it is acting in self-defense and that targeting the militants is the only way to stop terrorist attacks on Israelis. The practice has been widely condemned by the United States and other nations.

The shooting followed Israeli troop movements near the West Bank town of Bethlehem and nearby villages. Tanks and soldiers were moved into positions around Beit Jala, after Palestinian gunmen fired on the nearby Jewish community of Gilo. Israelis regard Gilo as a neighborhood of Jerusalem, although it was built on disputed land Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

The troop movements came the day after Israeli tanks and bulldozers raided the West Bank city of Jenin, destroying a Palestinian police headquarters before withdrawing. Israel says several Palestinian suicide bombers came from the Jenin area. Israel says it is trying to pressure the Palestinian Authority to arrest militants before they attack.

Palestinian officials say the Jenin incursion was a "declaration of war," and are calling on the United Nations Security Council to intervene.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon warned that the Palestinians will "lose more assets" if the violence continues. Sharon's remarks came after Israel took over Palestinians offices in and around Jerusalem. Among the buildings seized was Orient House, the symbolic headquarters of the Palestine Liberation Organization in East Jerusalem.

Israel took over Orient House and other Palestinian offices in retaliation for a suicide bombing that killed 16 people last week in a Jerusalem restaurant.

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Publication:Israel Faxx
Date:Aug 16, 2001
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