- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 27, 2002

From combined dispatches
JERUSALEM Israeli troops re-entered the West Bank town of Qalqilya yesterday to grab suspected militants. Then, just as suddenly last night, they began to pull out of the town, according to Israeli military sources.
Israeli troops backed by 15 armored vehicles and two helicopters entered the town in a pre-dawn incursion. A local leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) was killed in the attack.
Raed Nazel, accused by Israel of multiple attacks on Jewish settlers in the West Bank, was gunned down in the exchange, Israeli officials said.
Up to 20 militants were picked up in Qalqilya and three villages between the towns of Nablus and Jenin, Israeli officials said.
The army previously withdrew from the town on April 9 after occupying it as part of its blitz across the West Bank launched on March 29.
Meanwhile, there were these developments in the Israeli-Palestininan struggle:
Four Palestinian policemen surrendered to Israeli troops ringing Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity. Two men in the compound were wounded by Israeli snipers.
At Yasser Arafat's West Bank headquarters, Israeli soldiers fired tear gas and stun grenades toward hundreds of Palestinians protesting the Palestinian leader's confinement by Israel.
At one point, Palestinians fired several live rounds from a nearby building. Israeli troops responded with live fire, and the crowd quickly dispersed. Eleven persons were injured, none by gunfire.
Sixteen Palestinians were arrested in Qalqilya, including several who were on Israel's wanted list. About two dozen Palestinians were arrested in nearby villages, Palestinians said.
The raid of Qalqiliya is part of the follow-up to Israel's three-week military offensive against Palestinian militants, during which Israel occupied six West Bank towns.
Israel has withdrawn from most of those areas. In the new stage, Israel says it will send troops into Palestinian areas whenever there is information about the whereabouts of suspects.
"We have no choice but to launch these incursions to prevent attacks," said Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer. "There is no intention on our part to remain here."
Meanwhile, Hezbollah guerrillas fired rockets and machine guns at Israeli positions in a disputed enclave on Lebanon's southern border after a lull of nearly two weeks, triggering Israeli retaliation. Hezbollah said it had scored "direct hits," but there were no reports of casualties.
At Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, one of Christianity's holiest shrines, there were signs yesterday that a standoff between more than 200 Palestinians, including about 30 militiamen, and Israeli troops was entering the final phase.
Yesterday, four Palestinians surrendered, the Israeli military said.
Two Palestinians were also wounded by Israeli sniper fire while moving in the compound, the army said. The two were evacuated and given medical treatment.
The dispute now centers on the fate of six wanted Palestinians in the church whether they will be escorted to Gaza, as the Palestinians propose, or be sent into exile, as Israel demands, said Palestinian negotiator Salah Taameri, who was to meet today with Mr. Arafat to discuss the deal.
On Thursday, nine Palestinians, ages 14 to 20, left the church, bringing with them two corpses, in an agreement with the Israelis.
Eight were allowed to go home yesterday, after a night of questioning by Israeli forces. A ninth was kept in custody for further interrogation.
Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday agreed to a one-day delay in the arrival of a U.N. team to probe Israel's military assault on the Jenin refugee camp.

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