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Palestinians destroy first tunnel (JERUSALEM POST) By MARGOT DUDKEVITCH 02/03/05)Source: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1107314592230 JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
For the first time on Wednesday, Palestinian security officials demolished an arms-smuggling tunnel linking the Palestinian and Egyptian sides of Rafah.

Palestinian security officials said the 16-meter-deep tunnel was filled with water and sand before a bulldozer was dispatched to destroy it.

The demolition occurred as Gaza division commander Brig.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi and Col. Yoav Mordechai, head of the Gaza district coordinating office, met with Moussa Arafat, the head of security in Gaza.

The IDF said that it had no knowledge of a tunnel in that location.

In another development, The Jerusalem Post has learned that the status of Palestinian fugitives will only be determined after the gradual transfer of West Bank cities to Palestinian security control is completed.

Israeli officials said that there were two possible ways that the fugitives would be dealt with. The more likely option, according to officials, is that Israel would make an outright decision whereby Palestinian fugitives living in areas under Palestinian control would no longer be sought by Israel. The second option was that a joint team comprised of IDF, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and Palestinian officials would be formed. The members of this committee would scrutinize each individual, based on Shin Bet information, and determined whether or not they were still involved in terror.

"The issue is one of many currently being discussed with Palestinian officials in the framework of coordinating and enhancing security," an Israeli security official said.

The official did not rule out the possibility that the transfer of cities would begin within days of the Egyptian-initiated summit that will bring together Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Jordan´s King Abdullah and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak next week.

Israeli officials said the number of fugitives sought by Israel was in the vicinity of 200 to 300.

Other issues being discussed were the release of Palestinian security prisoners, ways of boosting security along the Philadelphi Route in southern Gaza and preventing the proliferation of tunnels used for smuggling weapons from Egypt into Gaza.

In the Gaza Strip, soldiers blew up four roadside bombs discovered by troops near the border with Egypt. Later sappers blew up a 6-kg. bomb discovered by troops south of the Sufa crossing in southern Gaza.

In the afternoon, soldiers manning the Tufah crossing in southern Gaza thwarted an attempt by a Palestinian woman to smuggle some 100 bullets hidden in a crate of apples and at the bottom of a can of olives. She was detained by the Shin Bet for questioning.

In the Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning, shots were fired at Rafiah Yam in southern Gaza and at an IDF post near Gadid in Gush Katif; no one was wounded in either attack.

Touring the Gaza Strip, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz accompanied by deputy Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Dan Halutz, told reporters that while Israel is keen to take advantage of the "new reality," it will be forced to act if the violence continues. Meeting with Givati soldiers, Mofaz said "it is a fragile reality that requires you to be prepared for all possible scenarios, to the point that the entire situation may be turned upside down."

In the West Bank, security forces deployed in the Ein Bet Ilma refugee camp in Nablus arrested Baizir Al Mahma, whom the army claimed planned to launch a suicide bombing in Israel. In the afternoon, reservists arrested a fugitive from Islamic Jihad in Kalkilya. AP contributed to this report. (© 1995-2005, The Jerusalem Post 02/03/05)




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