JERUSALEM Ñ Israel has closed the West Bank amid a wave of
Palestinian suicide bombings.
Officials said Palestinian insurgents have been planning daily suicide
attacks from the West Bank in which bombers would be dressed as Orthodox
Jews. They said Hamas used this method in three suicide attacks over the
weekend in which nine Israelis were killed. Hamas has claimed responsibility
for the attacks.
The closure of the West Bank would prevent Palestinian laborers from
entering Israel. The military did not say how long the closure would last.
"In the framework of the closure, Palestinians will not be allowed to
exit and enter the territory of the state of Israel," the Israeli military
said in a statement on Sunday.
On Monday, Palestinian suicide attacks against Israeli targets
continued. A Palestinian insurgent on a bicycle blew himself up near an
Israeli army jeep outside the Israeli community of Kfar Darom in the Gaza
Strip. Three soldiers were injured in an attack in which the Hamas claimed
Later, Hamas gunners fired Kassam-2 short-range missiles toward Israel.
One missile landed in the southern city of Sderot and two people were
Israeli officials said Hamas has targeted Jerusalem for a range of
attacks. They said authorities arrested eight Hamas residents of Jerusalem
who had planned to hijack a commuter bus in the city and hold passengers
hostage in an attempt to release Palestinians held by Israel.
Earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon convened his Cabinet to
discuss the latest wave of suicide attacks. Sharon rejected calls by at
least one minister to expel Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat
from the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
"We have to change the rules of the game," Agriculture Minister Yisrael
Katz, who supports Arafat's expulsion, said.