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Israel arrests 23 suspected Palestinian militants

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Israeli soldiers clean a mobile artillery piece near Kibbutz Nahal Oz just outside Gaza on Monday.

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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli security forces rounded up nearly two dozen suspected Palestinian militants in West Bank raids overnight, a military source said Tuesday.

Among the 23 people arrested were 13 members of Islamic Jihad and eight from Hamas. The affiliations of two others were not immediately known.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad is a militant group dedicated to the creation of an Islamic Palestinian state and the destruction of Israel.

Hamas, a Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist organization, has been labeled by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization. The group's military wing, Izzedine al Qassam, has admitted responsibility for terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians as well as attacks against the Israeli military.

On Sunday, Israel Defense Forces killed two members of Islamic Jihad during operations in the northern West Bank village of Qabatiya, a military statement said.

The men, described as "senior Islamic Jihad terrorists from the terror organization's northern West Bank infrastructure," were killed during a shootout after opening fire on IDF troops who had surrounded a house where they were holed up.

Also in Qabatiya, IDF troops killed a Palestinian gunman who opened fire on them Sunday. The military said he was one of three men who were attempting to place an explosive device along a road.

"During the activity there were several separate incidents in which explosive devices were activated against IDF forces and several incidents of Palestinian gunmen opening fire at IDF forces," an IDF statement said.

Two military vehicles were damaged.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon vowed last week to crack down on terrorists in response to a suicide bombing on Wednesday that killed five Israelis and wounded 28 people in a market in Hadera, in central Israel.

Sharon also said he would not meet with President Mahmoud Abbas until the Palestinian leader takes "serious and tangible action against terrorism."

Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for Wednesday's suicide bombing.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said the Palestinian Authority condemned the Hadera attack. He urged all sides to maintain the cease-fire agreement reached by Israel and the Palestinian Authority in February.

"We don't want to go back to this vicious cycle," Erakat said last week. "We've been there before. Israelis and Palestinians will pay the heaviest price if the cessation of violence is undermined."

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