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Israeli Forces Sweep Into Nablus, Arrest Suspected Militants

BY Admin  August 2, 2002 at 11:48 AM EDT

Israel deployed more than 100 tanks in Nablus’ Casbah, or Old City, which Israeli officials consider a hotbed of terrorist activity.

The move comes just days after a bomb attack killed seven people and wounded more than 80 at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Israeli army officials had no immediate comment on whether the incursion was in response to the bombing.

During the raid, Israeli soldiers smashed through houses searching for alleged Palestinian militants, residents said. Witnesses told reporters troops captured more than 30 suspects.

In other West Bank towns, the Israeli army demolished at least four homes — three of them reportedly belonging to relatives of suspected Palestinian militants.

In Salem, a village near Nablus, Israeli troops shot and killed an alleged Hamas activist after troops had handcuffed his hands behind his back, a neighbor told The Jerusalem Post.

In Hebron, Israeli soldiers destroyed a home belonging to relatives of an Islamic Jihad activist, Hatam Shweiki, who reportedly carried out an attack in Jerusalem last November. In Tulkarem, troops demolished a building believed to have been the home of a Hamas gunman who killed three in the port city of Netanya last March.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat denounced Israel’s destruction of civilian homes, calling it an attack against humanity.

“I am asking for quick international intervention from the United Nations. If they are not able to send forces, they should send observers,” Arafat told reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

But Israeli government spokesman Dore Gold said the raid was necessary to stem the flow of terrorists into Israel.

“There’s been a train of Palestinian terrorism that’s been hitting Israel over the past week to 10 days,” Gold said, “and what we’ve been able to discern is that its hub is in Nablus.”