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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       March 6, 1996 V4, #42
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Israeli Troops Crack Down

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

The Israeli army has launched a massive operation in the West Bank, closing roads and sealing off villages, as part of the government's new crackdown on militant groups in the wake of the recent suicide bombings.

The operation essentially prevented Palestinians from leaving whatever town or village they were in Tuesday morning. Many people crowded gas stations and food stores to stock up on basic supplies in case the siege continues.

The Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat, protested the move, calling it a violation of the latest Israeli-Palestinian peace accord. Under that agreement, Arafat's Autonomy Authority has full control of West Bank cities and civil control of the villages. But Israel maintains security responsibility in the villages and on roads and in rural areas.

The Israeli forces have so far not moved into any of the cities under full Palestinian control. But in villages and refugee camps, Israeli troops conducted house-to-house searches, arresting 19 people and sealing the homes of seven suspected suicide bombers and other militants.

Hamas Headquarters Tells Bombers to Stop

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

A senior political leader of the militant Palestinian group Hamas has called on the group's military cells to stop attacks against Israel. A communique from the group says it will comply -- but only if Israel ends its crackdown throughout the West Bank.

Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahhar issued the call for a ceasefire from Gaza, saying it is needed to reduce tensions. In a fax sent to news agencies, the Hamas military wing accepted the ceasefire call -- but only if Israel stops targeting its members.

Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres has declared war on Hamas and security forces launched a massive operation of roadblocks and house-to-house searches throughout the West Bank Tuesday.

Bomb Detection Devices Sent to Israel

By Deborah Tate (VOA-White House)

President Clinton announced the US is sending Israel explosive detection equipment along with a team of experts to help boost anti-terrorism efforts there.

The president also says a package of training, technical assistance and equipment is being developed to help Israelis and Palestinians work together to fight terrorism. In addition, he says, the US is boosting diplomatic efforts to support the Middle East peace process.

Later, in a broadcast statement to the Israeli people, Clinton expressed his deepest sorrow and strongest outrage at the recent bombings. The president urged Israelis not to give in to those who wish to derail the peace process.

World Reaction to Suicide Bombing

By Gary Edquist (VOA-Washington)

There is grief and rage in Israel in the wake of the latest suicide bombing, which killed at least 13 people and wounded 125 in a Tel Aviv shopping district Monday. Since Feb. 25, nearly 60 people have been killed in Israel in a series of attacks. The Islamic group Hamas claimed responsibility for the latest blast.

From Israel, there is this comment from the newspaper "Yediot": "We have received yet another confirmation...that even if the Palestinians change their covenant, it would be mere lip service. This is a war, and we should act accordingly. We must fight them unto death...And when one is busy fighting, one doesn't have time for 'peace processes' -- neither here nor in Maryland...."

From the West Bank, "Al Quds" had these questions in its editorial: "How can Israel ask the Palestinian authority to do what [Israel] itself failed to do with all its might, resources and capabilities in areas that were under its control? How can Israel stop the negotiations when it declares that the purpose of these attacks is to halt the peace process?"

The West Bank newspaper "An Nahar" wrote that "If Israelis are angry, we are angry, too."

From Egypt, the semi-official "Al-Ahram" had this comment: "Hopefully, Israel has realized after all this bloodshed that there is no way but to talk to the Palestinian Authority along and respect its demands... Using violence as a political pressure card will only lead to a deadlock."

The French daily newspaper "Liberation," in Paris, looks beyond the bombing to the political future in Israel: "The first consequence of these attacks could be the defeat of Shimon Peres and the Labor Party in the May 29th elections, and the victory of the right wing, which does not intend to go further with Yasir Arafat."

And from Japan, the "Tokyo Shimbun" urged Israelis and Palestinians not to yield to terrorism but work to secure a lasting peace: Although a 'civil war' between Palestinians may break out, by proving Palestinians can govern themselves, Arafat can lead the way to establishing a Palestinian state."

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