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January 30, 2003

Israeli Troops, Tanks Sweep Across Hebron

HEBRON, West Bank - Israeli army bulldozers demolished a Palestinian vegetable market in Hebron Thursday, as troops closed Palestinian police and TV stations in the West Bank city in a crackdown on suspected militants.

Soldiers fired live rounds and rubber-coated steel pellets at Palestinians who threw stones during the demolition of more than 100 market stalls.

The military said it carried out the operation in response to a series of ambushes in Hebron. Since Nov. 15, 18 Israelis have been killed in such attacks.

The Hebron sweep came two days after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's election victory. In a sign that he will stick to his tough policies against the Palestinians, Sharon rebuffed Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's offer to meet and resume peace talks.