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Palestinians ask U.S. help in stopping killings

Dressed as suicide bombers, Palestinians in the West Bank town of Tulkarem Monday carry the body of a Hamas activist killed the day before.
Dressed as suicide bombers, Palestinians in the West Bank town of Tulkarem Monday carry the body of a Hamas activist killed the day before.  


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Palestinian Authority has again implored the United States to pressure Israel to stop what it says is the practice of targeted killings and to allow international monitors into the region.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat sent a "strong letter" to President Bush describing a sense of urgency and asking for a greater U.S. involvement, a State Department official said Monday.

Hasan Abdel Rahman, the chief Palestinian representative to the United States, told CNN he also delivered a letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell from Palestinian Cabinet member Nabil Shaath.

The letter outlines the "very difficult and dangerous situation" in the region "as a result of the mafia-style executions" of Palestinian officials by Israeli forces, the killing of innocent civilians and the "economic siege" of the Palestinian territories.

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It asks the United States to "take action" to prevent further targeted killings by Israelis and to push the Israeli government to implement recommendations of the Mitchell Committee report and allow observers to ensure Israeli compliance.

Shaath's letter follows a weekend of violent attacks by both sides, including another targeted attack against Palestinian officials. An Israeli missile strike Sunday killed an activist member of the militant wing of the Muslim group Hamas in the West Bank, Palestinian security sources said.

Meanwhile, Palestinian officials have rejected an Israeli call for them to arrest 100 activists, including seven whose names were published Sunday.

"The Israeli government should arrest 50 persons who have formed a gang of settlers -- armed settlers -- and they are acting as terrorists and as killers in the streets of the West Bank," said Yasser Abed Rabbo, the Palestinian Authority's information minister.

"All these people should be arrested. They are well-known to the Israeli government and the death squads that work under the direction of the heads of security -- Israeli formations and the Israeli army -- these people also should be stopped and arrested," he said.

On Sunday, the Israeli Defense Ministry faxed the names of seven wanted "Palestinian terrorists" to members of the news media. It was the first time the ministry had published such a list.

The list included names, addresses and a list of attacks in which Israel alleges they were involved. The release of the list left open the possibility that if the seven are not arrested, they could become targets of what Israel is calling its "active self-defense."

"We have asked the Palestinian Authority to put a number of people in jail because we have ample evidence that they have been involved in the murdering and assassination of many Israeli citizens," said Israeli Public Security Minister Uzi Landeau.

"The Palestinian Authority not only hasn't done it but has also provided them with means of launching attacks and with a green light to go on with terrorism," Landeau said.

"We will take every possible means to protect ourselves and see that these people on their way to kill us will be intercepted. This is what we will do."

A few weeks ago Palestinian officials tried to provide a similar list to Israeli security chiefs of 50 Israeli civilians they believed were planning attacks on Palestinians, but they were refused.

In other news, Israel's defense minister said Monday a suicide bomber planning to carry out an attack on Tel Aviv had been captured near the West Bank town of Tulkarem.

Israel Radio quoted Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer as saying the man was an associate of the Hamas activist killed in an Israeli strike Sunday. The man was not carrying explosives when he was arrested, Israeli authorities said.

In response to a weekend shooting that killed an Israeli woman in the West Bank, Israeli tanks shelled Palestinian targets Monday near Qalqilya, also in the West Bank, the Israel Defense Force said.

According to the Palestine Red Crescent Society, the shells hit a Palestinian police post, an intelligence post and a college.

The Israeli army described Sunday's attack that prompted the shelling as a drive-by shooting and said the shots came from a car bearing Palestinian plates near the village of Azoun, east of Qalqilya near Alfei Menashe.

One woman was killed and three other people were wounded -- two of them seriously -- when their car came under fire, the Israeli army said.






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