- JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The
Israeli army, under U.S. pressure to end a West Bank offensive, launched
fresh raids into two Palestinian towns and a refugee camp on Thursday but
said it had withdrawn from dozens of other places in the past 24 hours.
- Just hours before Secretary of State Colin Powell was
due to arrive in Israel on a peace mission, the army said its forces swept
into the towns of Bir Zeit and Dahariya and the Ein Beit Elma refugee camp,
making arrests and seizing weapons.
- Palestinian witnesses said troops ordered students out
of their dormitories at Bir Zeit University, the West Bank's largest university
and a stronghold of nationalism, and detained several students. Soldiers
also imposed a curfew and seized the town's main government building.
- The raids were part of a 13-day-old military campaign
launched by Israel on March 29 after a Palestinian suicide bomber killed
27 Israelis in a seaside hotel. Israel has so far defied U.S. pressure
to end the offensive.
- The army said it had pulled out of 24 towns and villages
over the past day, but it gave no indication when it would withdraw from
Palestinian cities and other areas it has occupied since the offensive