Palestinian Killed; Arafat Threatens Christmas Walk to Bethlehem; Zinni to Return After Christmas
A calm in the Palestinian territories was shattered Thursday afternoon when a Palestinian was killed in a firefight with Israeli forces as they moved back into a suburb of Nablus they had quit just hours earlier, Palestinian officials said.
Tanks and armoured cars moved into an autonomous Palestinian area of west Nablus they had quit in the morning, although the army said the movement had been a "tactical change" and not an official withdrawal.
Tanks also returned to a West Bank village evacuated hours earlier.
The withdrawal had been seen as a sign that the security situation had improved slightly after a dramatic drop in violence following Yasser Arafat's peace call on Sunday.
But the clashes and the killing -- the first since Monday -- ruptured the peace.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, apparently getting tough on Islamic groups defying his call for a ceasefire with Israel, sent his police in the pre-dawn hours Thursday to arrest a senior official of the Islamic group Hamas in Gaza City.
Seven people were injured when the police clashed with armed protestors as they tried to arrest Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi. (AFP, Nablus)
Arafat to “Walk” to Bethlehem, Zinni Might Return
Yasser Arafat, who has announced his intention to participate in Christmas celebrations on Monday in Bethlehem, threatened to “walk there” if Israel does not allow him transport. Arafat has been stranded in Ramallah since Israeli forces destroyed his helicopters in a Gaza air strike earlier this month.
Meanwhile, Palestinian sources disclosed that U.S. Middle East envoy Anthony Zinni would return back to the region after Christmas. The U.S. administration is expected to soon make an assessment to the situation in order to make decisions concerning the next steps to be taken.(Albawaba.com)
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