Israeli soldiers shot dead five Palestinians in Gaza Strip Sunday night and early Monday. Palestinian sources reported also that Israeli soldiers killed another Palestinian near the West Bank city of Tulkarem.
Palestinian Authority security sources said that Israeli troops killed two PA policemen during intensive gun battles overnight near the Gaza Strip settlement of Kfar Darom.
The sources identified the two as Adnan al-Awadeh and Khaled Nabirim. They were killed by Israeli fire in El Bureij refugee camp, adjacent to the Jewish settlement.
The two, residents of El Bureij, were members of Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the military wing of Fatah movement.
In the northern part of Gaza Strip, occupation troops shot dead three Palestinians who were approaching the settlements of Dugit and Nezarim, the Israeli radio said.
Israeli units arrested 14 Palestinians from the Deheishe refugee camp near Bethlehem overnight. In addition, a Palestinian was arrested in the town of Yatta, south of Hebron, Israel Radio said.
Meanwhile, Israeli police detained three Palestinians in the village of Hizme, north of Jerusalem, early Monday morning.
On the political front, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs William Burns met with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat in Ramallah Monday morning. They were to discuss means to break the standoffs at his compound and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
Before the planned meeting Palestinian sources said Burns would also try to work towards a cease-fire compromise. Additionally, Palestinians said they would tell Burns they are concerned Prime Minister Ariel Sharon may storm the compound now that Secretary of State Colin Powell is no longer in the region and that Arafat may be hurt. The US has warned Israel against any action that may harm the Palestinian leader.
Israel has said it will not remove its troops from Arafat's compound until Arafat extradites the suspected killers of tourism minister Rehavam Ze'evi and Karine A arms smuggling ship suspect Fuad Shubaki.
Israel is also insisting it will not lift the siege around the Church of Nativity until approximately 30 Palestinian fighters surrender and are either arrested or deported.
CIA Director George Tenet, who was expected to arrive this week, has postponed his visit until there is a greater likelihood of a cease-fire declaration, which would also pave the way for the US to help the Palestinians rebuild their police and security forces and other PA institutions, according to a PA source.
"To rebuild what they've destroyed and replace what they've seized will require a super effort and a long period of time," said Ahmed Qurei, Palestinian parliament speaker.
A tour of four ministries — education, environment, supplies and higher education — in Ramallah immediately after Israel's withdrawal Sunday revealed extensive and, in some cases, selective damage to the government infrastructure, Reuters reported.
Throughout the West Bank, facilities used by about 10 Palestinian security and intelligence units lay in ruins from Israeli attacks or abandoned for fear of fresh ones. Many, if not most, of their personnel are either in hiding or in detention. (Albawaba.com)
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