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Hamas says it will stop attacks from Gaza

Israel arrests 206 terror suspects in West Bank



West Bank

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- The militant group Hamas announced Sunday it will stop attacks against Israelis from Gaza, after three days of violence that threatened fragile efforts toward peace between Israel and Palestinians.

"We are calling our militant group to stop their activities against the Israeli occupation outside Gaza strip," Hamas' leader in Gaza, Mahmoud al-Zahar, said at a news conference.

The decision followed pressure from Israel and from within the Palestinian Authority, and amid Israeli missile strikes and the arrests of scores of alleged Palestinian militants.

Al-Zahar cited an "internal Palestinian agreement" in calling for an end to "all the militant nature" of the celebration to Israel's withdrawal from Gaza.

Overnight, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) continued their crackdown on "wanted" Palestinians in the West Bank, arresting 90 members of the militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, an IDF spokesman said Monday. Over the weekend, Israeli forces arrested 207 Palestinian militants.

Israeli airstrikes continued into Monday morning, with missile attacks targeting sites across Gaza that a military spokesman said were used to launch rocket attacks on Israeli territory. Four Palestinian militants were killed in the weekend raids, including two members of Hamas.

Sunday evening, Israeli aircraft fired rockets on a Palestinian vehicle traveling south of Gaza City, Israeli military officials said.

Two Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants who were killed have been identified as Mohammed Sheikh Khalil, a field commander also known as Kalil al Marashi, and Mohammed Baroon, said Palestinian security officials and Islamic Jihad sources.

Israel and the U.S. State Department consider both Islamic Jihad and Hamas terrorist organizations.

At a Cabinet meeting earlier Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said he had instructed "that there are no restrictions on the use of any measures in order to strike at the terrorists, their equipment and where they find shelter."

He added, "The instructions are unequivocal; we do not mean a one-time action here."

Palestinian sources in Gaza said there was an exchange of gunfire between Hamas militants and security guards of Palestinian Interior Ministry spokesman Tawfic abu Khoussa outside his house late Sunday. Khoussa was inside his home at the time, but no one was hurt, the sources said.

Israeli aircraft Monday fired a missile into northern Gaza, causing one injury. Palestinian sources said the missile landed next to an industrial area in Beit Hanoun.

Two other airstrikes followed in southern Gaza, with Palestinian sources saying targets in Rafah and Khan Yunis were hit. There were no reports of injuries from those strikes.

Violence escalated Friday when a vehicle blew up at a Hamas rally in Gaza, killing 19 people. Hamas militants blamed Israel and fired at least three dozen Qassam rockets into Israel, wounding at least five civilians, Israeli officials said.

The Palestinian Authority has called the blast an accident. Israel has denied any responsibility and accused Palestinian militants of setting off a blast intended against Israelis.

Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres called Hamas "a danger" to Palestinians and the region.

After the Hamas rocket attacks, Israel launched missile strikes into northern and southern Gaza Saturday night against what it called "weaponry manufacturing infrastructure." Targets included sites in Gaza City, Jebaliya and Khan Yunis.

Israel also arrested at least 206 wanted Palestinians in the West Bank, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad members, an IDF spokeswoman told CNN. She said arrests were ongoing.

The missile strikes killed two Palestinian militants from Hamas as they traveled by car east of Gaza City Saturday, said Palestinian security officials.

One of the dead was identified as Rawad Farhat, the officials said.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat urged Israel to avoid violence and for President Bush to intervene.

Israel's military actions, he said, "lead in one direction -- the collapse of the cease-fire, which serves no side's interests."

Richard Jones, U.S. ambassador to Israel, blamed Hamas.

"We all know that the terrorists are trying to provoke Israel at a very sensitive time, and we understand exactly what the government's position is and the response it has taken," he said.

The outbreak in violence was the first since Israel's withdrawal from Gaza last month, a step widely viewed as a new impetus for peace efforts between the two sides.

Israel has criticized the Palestinian Authority for refusing to arrest and prosecute those who take part in terrorist attacks. Officials said the Palestinian Authority cannot claim a true "cease-fire" while militant groups attack Israeli officials with impunity.

Palestinian leaders have said lifting arms against militants could escalate violence.

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