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IDF Cracks Down on West Bank Gangs, Arresting 50 and Demolishing Homes

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The Israel Defense Force cracked down this week on terrorist gangs in the Nablus and Jenin areas that have targeted Palestinians believed to be cooperating with the Israeli authorities.

The army also imposed a curfew on the Tulkarm refugee camp Tuesday following disturbances there.

More than 50 arrests were made in the Nablus area. Four houses belonging to suspects were demolished and six were sealed off, following the arrests.

The security forces hope the roundup put an end to the yearlong firebomb attacks in the Nablus area, which badly burned several people and caused extensive property damage.

Targets of the bombings included the local planning office, a Bank Leumi branch and several cafes.

The Jenin gang was responsible for the death of a local policeman last year. The homes of two of its members were demolished, and four other houses were sealed off.

The demolitions were carried out after the High Court of Justice rejected an appeal from a family living in one of the two homes. The other family did not appeal.

In other punitive actions, the IDF demolished a house in Beit Ummar and sealed two others in Samua village, in the Hebron area. The owners were arrested for allegedly attacking local residents and for other acts of violence.

A Gaza military court imposed prison sentences Tuesday on three Arab youths accused of illegal assembly and incitement.

One received 30 months in jail and another got two years for incitement. A third youth was sentenced to 20 months in jail and fined $635 for throwing objects at an army patrol.

The army barred a pro-Palestinian group of Israelis on Tuesday from entering the Dehaishe refugee camp, near Bethlehem. The army said it could not be responsible for its safety.

Meanwhile, Shmuel Goren, coordinator of government activities in the administered territories, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday that the civil administration is searching for ways to reopen Palestinian schools.

Israel has come under considerable criticism abroad for the closures.

Goren said the civil administration would only agree to reopen the schools if it received guarantees they would not be used for incitement to violence.

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