by Selwyn Manning
Israel's prime minister Ariel Sharon has bowed to US pressure and agreed to allow his deputy Shimon Peres to meet Yasser Arafat within 24 hours.
The decision comes after days of renewed violence, after Sharon called off truce-talks, in and around the West Bank and Gaza areas. The prospect of whether Sharon would allow the talks to proceed has displayed a see-saw of indecision since Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat called a tentitive ceasefire midway through last week.
On calling off the talks yesterday, Sharon reinstituted a military blockade of Palestinian movements - ordering his Israel Defence Force soldiers to guard border areas around the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Even though Sharon has again agreed to the talks, the blockade continues tonight.
The IDF issued this following statement to media:
General Closure on the West Bank and Gaza
"Starting from tomorrow, on the eve of Yom Kippur, (26/09/01), like every year, a general closure will be imposed on the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
"The closure will continue until Friday (28/09/01) at 02:00.
"During the closure the exit of workers will be totally prohibited and traders and businessmen will not be granted entrance into Israel.
"International border passages on the Allenby Bridge and the Rafah Junction will be closed. The "Karni" and "Sufa" passages will also be closed.
the closure, passage will be allowed in humanitarian cases.
The IDF Spokesperson emphasizes that the entrance of Israelis into Palestinian Authority territory is dangerous and prohibited," the statement read.
Palestinians saw the re-occupation of border areas as a sign of Israeli aggression.
In a joint press conference with British foreign minister Jack Straw, Palestinian president Yasser Arafat reconfirmed his commitment to peace: "We are fully committed to the peace process as we have already declared and we and the Israelis need Britain's help to overcome all the difficulties."
Arafat said his talks with Straw considered ways to push the peace process and how to pursue efforts with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.
While preparations for peace-talks continued, violence erupted. Palestinian accounts of the violence reported three Palestinians injured including two children.
Three Palestinian citizens were injured yesterday evening when the Israeli occupying forces stationed at “Gani Tal” settlement suddenly opened their heavy machinegun fire towards the “Alamal” residential neighborhood.
Medical sources in the Public “Nasser” Hospital said that two of the injured were children of 12 and 13 years-of-age, who were shot in their hands and legs.
While in Hebron six Palestinians were injured when Israeli forces opened machinegun fire toward the Alfawwar Refugee Camp, adjacent to Hebron City. Medical sources in “Alya” Hospital said most of the injuries were in the upper part of the bodies.
Israel's YeshaNews agency issued a counter report of today's violence.
21:33 Roadside bomb discovered near Mevo Dotan - An IDF patrol this evening found a roadside bomb that was set by Arab forces near Mevo Dotan, in Samaria. IDF sappers safely destroyed the bomb.
21:06 Arab forces fire on IDF in and around Hebron - Arab forces tonight opened fire on an IDF patrol in the Jewish Quarter of Hebron. Not far from Hebron, Arab forces also opened on an IDF patrol by Otniel.
21:04 Arab forces shell Morag - Arab forces moments ago launched a mortar shell into the Jewish community of Morag, in Gush Katif. No injuries were reported.
16:10 Mortar shelling in Gush Katif - Arab forces this afternoon launched two mortar shells in Gush Katif. One shell exploded in the Jewish community of Nativ Haasara, and the other shell exploded near an IDF post. No injuries were reported.
11:15 Roadside bomb hits IDF patrol at Ganim - Arab forces this morning detonated a roadside bomb as an IDF jeep patrol passed it on the entrance road to Ganim, in Samaria. No injuries were reported.
09:17 Roadside bombs discovered near Shechem - An IDF patrol this morning discovered two roadside bombs planted by Arab forces near Shechem. An IDF sapper safely detonated the explosive devices. There were no injuries reported.
00:45 Arab forces shell Neve Dekalim - Arab forces late Monday night launched mortar shells at the Jewish community of Neve Dekalim, in Gush Katif. No injuries were reported.
00:44 Arab forces open fire on Psagot, Tarmit, Bezek - Arab forces late Monday night opened fire on the Jewish community of Psagot. In the Gush Katif area, Arab forces opened fire on the IDF's Tarmit outpost and Bezek base.
YeshaNews reports no one was injured in any of the attacks.