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Palestinian students defy closure of Hebron University

JERUSALEM, Dec. 9 (JTA) — Some 300 Palestinian students broke into the campus of the Hebron University this week, defying a closure order in effect since March. The students agreed to leave the premises only after being assured that the institution would be reopened in a week, Palestinian sources said. However, Israeli security sources said no agreement was reached and that the closure order on the university, issued after a wave of suicide bombings in Israel, would remain in effect. At the time, Israeli officials suspected that the campus was a center for Hamas activity. The incident came as Israeli and Palestinians remained unable to strike a final deal on the redeployment of Israeli troops in Hebron. The two sides have been stuck on details of security arrangements in the West Bank town, where some 500 Jewish settlers and 130,000 Palestinians live. On Monday, when the students entered the compound, paratroop units were sent to the site. Contacts ensued between Israeli and Palestinians security officials, resulting in the dispersal of the students, on the condition that they be allowed to leave quietly with no arrests. Student representatives said the agreement called for the resumption of classes at the university, and at the Polytechnic Institute, also in Hebron.