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Israel considers response to violence

Sharon
Sharon: More pressure on cease-fire  


JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has held a meeting of his Security Cabinet to consider a response to recent violence.

Tuesday's meeting came after Jewish settler Yair Har-Sinai was fatally shot on Monday night -- the third shooting in 24 hours, putting more strain on a fragile three-week cease-fire agreement.

After the meeting, Israel's Foreign Minister Shimon Peres told reporters."The situation is troubling.... The cease-fire is not, as yet, completely established and it's going (toward) an extremely difficult period of time."

Finance Minister Silvan Shalom said Israel would continue to target Palestinian militants who threatened Israeli lives.

"We will continue to do all we can to bring an end to the terror and to stop the attacks by those who mean to carry them out," Shalom told Israel Radio as he left the meeting.

"One or two victims a day is not something the state of Israel can continue to live with."

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The Security Cabinet is expected to meet again on Wednesday.

Police believed Har-Sinai, 51, was shot in the back of the head at close range, according to Israeli media reports.

His body was found near his home in the Hebron area of the West Bank, Israeli police said.

"At least two Palestinians ambushed him and shot him from short range -- once in the head and once in the body," a police spokesman told Reuters. "Then they escaped to the village of Yata."

Following the latest wave of violence, Israeli Defence Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said: "The situation that is happening on the ground is a new situation that in my opinion requires us to reassess everything that is happening in the territories."

As the cabinet prepared to meet, an Israeli security source told Reuters that as far as Israel was concerned, "the Palestinians never even started the cease-fire."

The U.N.'s Middle East envoy, Terje Roed-Larsen, said in Gaza: "The situation is very difficult.

"The last events of the last couple of days show how fragile the cease-fire is. All indications are now it will not hold."

In New York on Monday, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged both sides "to exercise maximum restraint so that a total collapse of the cease-fire can be prevented."

Jibril Rajoub, head of Palestinian Preventive Security in the West Bank, told Israeli radio on Monday: "As long as the situation doesn't change in the field ...don't ask the Palestinian people or the Palestinian Authority to do anything, because we cannot do anything."

On Monday, Israeli Avijan Aharon, 41, was shot dead at point-blank range while shopping in a market near the village of Baqa Al-Rarbiya, in Israel.

Later in the day, Israeli soldiers shot and seriously wounded a 32-year-old Palestinian taxi driver near a military checkpoint in the West Bank.

Earlier on Monday, two car bombs went off in the Tel Aviv suburb of Yehud. No one was seriously injured.





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