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Mofaz: Up to 75 percent drop in attacks in recent days (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Gideon Alon and Aluf Benn, Haaretz Correspondents, Haaretz Service and agencies 01/30/05 14:10 (GMT+2)Source: http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/spages/533515.html HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Palestinian Authority security forces will deploy in four West Bank towns on Wednesday, as part of Israel´s gradual transfer of security control to the Palestinians, a top PA security official said.

PA forces will deploy in Ramallah, Tul Karm, Qalqilyah and Jericho, the official said on condition of anonymity.

The official spoke a day after Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and former Palestinian security chief, Mohammed Dahlan, worked out the details of the handover.

Prior to the statement from the PA security official Sunday, Mofaz had said that Israel could pull its troops back from several West Bank cities within days, pending the outcome of further talks with the new Palestinian leadership.

Despite further signs of a budding truce, the fragility of the calm was apparent in reports that IDF troops shot dead 65-year-old Palestinian civilian in a pre-dawn incident on Sunday on the flashpoint Philadelphi road in southern Gaza. The IDF said the man was deep inside a no-go zone, close to an army position along a patrol road near the border, when troops shot him.

Nevertheless, there has been a drop of 70 to 75 percent in the number of terror attacks on Israeli targets and a distinct calming of the security situation over the past few days, Mofaz told the cabinet on Sunday.

The defense minister said the IDF has been directed to acted in a restrained manner while continuing to foil imminent attacks on Israelis.

"The IDF will continue to act anywhere that is required while simultaneously refraining from causing harm to the Palestinian security forces and to Palestinian civilians not involved in terrorism," Mofaz said.

In accordance with this approach, Mofaz noted that the IDF´s open- fire regulations have been redefined in areas where Palestinian Authority security forces have been deployed.

-- Officials from both sides said Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas would meet around February 8.

-- On Friday, Chief of Staff Moshe Ya´alon imposed a freeze on all offensive operations in the Gaza Strip, where Palestinians have resumed responsibility for security in areas under their control. In the West Bank, arrest operations against active terror cells will require Ya´alon´s personal approval.

-- The IDF is also preparing to reopen the Gaza Strip border crossings - Erez, Karni and Rafah - if the Palestinians commit to certain security measures to prevent further attacks there.

-- The Central Intelligence Agency is set to resume its role in security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in an effort to stabilize the situation in the territories and firm up a potential cease-fire agreement, senior officials said Saturday.

Only one arrest operation took place in the West Bank over the weekend. In the Ein Beit-Ilma refugee camp in Nablus, IDF troops arrested two wanted Fatah men who are suspected of planning to carry out a terror attack soon.

There were few shooting incidents, all in the Gaza Strip: gunshots at an IDF outpost in Gush Katif; an anti-tank rocket fired at IDF troops; a mortar shell fired at another outpost; and a Qassam rocket launched from Beit Hanun that landed in a kibbutz in the western Negev. There were no casualties in these incidents. (© Copyright 2005 Haaretz. 01/30/05)


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