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Israeli Raids, Killings Draw Palestinian Anger


Israeli Raids, Killings Draw Palestinian Anger Israeli Rabbis Refuse ‘Roadmap’

Palestinians condemned the mass detentions carried out by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) in Hebron and Nablus cities as an attempt to sabotage efforts to reach a truce declaration by the Palestinian factions to help push forward the peace process.

Meanwhile, IOF soldiers shot dead two Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun, Israeli army sources said Wednesday.

The raids on Nablus and Hebron, the largest cities in the West Bank, and the series of assassinations of Palestinian activists added to tensions surrounding the implementation of the internationally adopted “roadmap” for ending nearly 33 months of bloodshed and establishing a Palestinian state by 2005.

Palestinian Minister of Cabinet Affairs Yasser Abed Rabbo called the raids in Hebron and Nablus a “crazy act” and “an attempt to sabotage the understanding with Hamas. Israel does not want a cease-fire.”

Michael Tarazi, legal adviser to the Palestine National Authority (PNA), condemned the arrests, accusing Israel of a “clear attempt at undermining the Palestinian Authority and the roadmap” to a Middle East peace.

“While the Palestinian Authority is pushing for prisoners to be released as a sign of good will, Israel is doing the opposite and taking more political prisoners,” Tarazi said. “Israel is undermining the Palestinian Authority because, if there is a deal with Hamas and the group ends its violence against Israelis, it will mean Israel will have to meet its obligations under the roadmap. It does’t want to do that.”

The Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Maher, said a breakthrough at the mediation talks with Hamas in Cairo appeared imminent. But he criticized the Israeli raids and killings.

“There is a feeling of optimism that something like this [truce] will be announced in the next few days,” Maher said. “It is impossible that calm can be achieved unilaterally while the other side continues its provocative policies that increase difficulties.”

Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi, a senior political Hamas leader wounded in an Israeli assassination attempt on June 10, told Reuters, “We are facing a Zionist assault and it is not logical to ask us to accept a truce under these conditions.”

The IOF claimed Tuesday’s West Bank arrests of about 160 Palestinians were aimed at “terrorists and their helpers” behind suicide bombings and other attacks on Israelis.

However, Palestinian sources in Hebron said those detained in the city included elderly men, some women and young teenagers who he described as Hamas sympathizers rather than activists.

They were held blindfolded and handcuffed in tents until taken to a building for questioning.

Israeli Rabbis Refuse ‘Roadmap’

Meanwhile, leading Israeli rabbis have described the implementing of the US-backed peace plan “illegal and immoral” on religious grounds, saying the Israeli government has no authority to relinquish control of West Bank land to Palestinians.

At a meeting Monday, more than 500 members of the “Union of Rabbis for the Land of Israel and the People of Israel” rejected any attempt to dismantle unauthorized Jewish outposts in the West Bank, as required by the “roadmap” peace plan.

“Changes to the Land of Israel, including changes carried out by the prime minister, are illegal, and of course immoral, because they contravene the Bible,” Rabbi Elyakim Levanon said at the meeting.

“We are the masters of all of the Land of Israel, and no one will establish another state between the (Mediterranean) Sea and the Jordan (River),” he added.

Avraham Burg of the opposition Labor party called the rabbis’ declaration “an invitation to assassination”.

“I see their action as a clear attempt to subvert the rule of law and bring about the inculcation of fundamentalist norms in Israel,” Burg said Tuesday.

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