Israeli and Palestinian officials met late Thursday to discuss an impasse over the release of Palestinian prisoners. Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and Palestinian Security Chief Mohammed Dahlan held talks for two hours at an Israel-Gaza crossing point.
Israel Radio reported that Mofaz demanded that the Palestinians take action against armed groups during the truce. Otherwise, progress toward peace would be impossible, the report said.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon addressed the issue in a speech to U.S. Jewish activists as his defense minister met Dahlan. He said the Palestinians must "act and struggle against terror, dismantling terror organizations, collecting their weapons," AP reported.
A Palestinian security official said after the talks that Dahlan demanded release of all 7,000 prisoners Israel is holding, especially about 450 who have been in prison for many years. Also, the official said, Dahlan asked the Israelis to remove roadblocks in the West Bank and prepare to pull out of additional West Bank cities and towns.
After the meeting, security guards of Dahlan shot and wounded an activist in Hamas military wing in Gaza. Sources close to Dahlan called the incident a "misunderstanding" and said they thought the man presented a danger to Dahlan. However, a Website related to Hamas said the man, Muhammed al Samri, 35, was surprised from the shooting while he was driving in his car. He was evacuated in a moderate condition to a nearby hospital.
As the talks were in progress, the Israeli military said three Palestinians crossed the security fence and tried to enter an Israeli village outside northern Gaza. Not far away, one Palestinian crossed the fence from the Gaza Strip into Israel and approached another village.
Soldiers stopped the attempts, wounding two Palestinians and capturing all four. Their motives were not clear, as they were unarmed.