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MER - Washington - 3/02:  While Hizbollah continues to demoralize the Israelis, and while Syria holds out for all its 1967 territory and many billions, the Arafat regime continues to play its role as occupation police force in Palestinian "autonomous" areas.   And while the Israelis are being pressed by Syria to apply the old U.N. Resolution 242 to Syrian territory, the Arafat  regime, the "Palestinian Authority", has been bribed and twisted and turned to give up the very same Resolution 242 allowing the Israelis to convert Palestinians into modern-day Indians on reservations.  This latest news about "Arafat's Cops" -- who by the way continue to arrest, imprison, and torture students from Bir Zeit University which remains "on strike" against the regime.  At this time in history the CIA/Israeli/Muhabarat/Arafat alliance is managing to keep the struggle against what remains a continuing occupation in check.  The big question remains, however, how long can this seriously unjust and increasingly repressive situation continue?


TAIBEH, Israel (AP by Dana Budeiri) - Israeli security forces tried to storm a gunmen's hideout before dawn today in an Arab town in northern Israel.  Two Palestinian militants were killed in the shootout.

The security forces arrived at the two-story house in the center of Taibeh, an Arab town north of Tel Aviv, and attempted to storm the building about 4 a.m. Neighbors said they heard gunfire and explosions.

Deputy defense minister Ephraim Sneh and Palestinian security sources said the gunmen belonged to Hamas, the largest Palestinian militant Islamic group, which has carried out terrorist attacks to disrupt Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking.

``They intended to lay explosives in the center of one of the Israeli towns and to inflict very heavy casualties,'' Sneh said.

Police Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami said a third guerrilla was in custody. A police spokeswoman said another gunman might still be in the house, and authorities were searching for a fifth man. Ben-Ami said the raid squelched a major, imminent attack on an Israeli town and called it the latest incident in a resurgence of Palestinian terrorist activity. He said the planned attack had ``catastrophic potential.''

``I wouldn't say that the level (of terror) has been raised, but there have been more and more incidents,'' Ben-Ami told Israel radio, citing two other recent alerts of potential terrorist attacks - one in Netanya, on the coast, and the other in Jerusalem.  In both cases, the attackers were stopped in the planning stages.

In the latest case, Ben-Ami suggested that Israeli police were alerted by Palestinian security forces. ``As of now we feel there is cooperation, so the situation is under control,'' he said.

At midday, Israeli forces still surrounded the house, with its window shutters on the upper floor blown out. Commandos stood on the roof, their weapons at the ready, and a helicopter hovered above. Security forces cleared the area in a radius of 100 yards.  Schools in the neighborhood, just off the town's main square, were closed for the day, and people who lived in the immediate area were ordered to remain inside their homes. Further afield, Taibeh residents clustered on rooftops to observe the events.

Police sent a robot in to search for bombs. Army radio later reported that a bomb squad dog emerged from the house unharmed.

The mayor of Taibeh, Issam Massawa, said another guerrilla had apparently fled. Police spokeswoman Sivan Kedmi said that man was not in the house during the raid but was suspected of being connected to the group. She said police were searching the nearby village of Kalansua.

A member of Israel's special anti-terrorist squad was wounded during the shootout. His foot was later amputated, said Dr. Michael Sudri, head of orthopedics at Beilinson hospital.

Massawa said several Palestinians had been arrested. He identified the owner of the house as a local man, Abdel Sattar Aweideh, who was in police custody.

The mayor said he did not think Aweideh had any idea that his tenants were connected to terrorist attacks, but said he would convene a town meeting this evening to persuade residents not to rent apartments to outsiders without a thorough background check.

Ben-Ami linked the resurgence of attempted attacks, together with a flush of recent stabbings, to Palestinian frustration with the stalled peace process.

``We sense irritation among the Palestinians which finds expression in these attempts,'' he said.

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