IDF Said Curbing West Bank Raids for Duration of Rice Visit

Troops Sunday kill two Palestinians carrying explosives and approaching Gaza security fence.

The IDF on Monday has ordered to minimize operational activity in the West Bank during the current Mideast visit of United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"The commander of IDF forces in Judea and Samaria, Brigadier General Yair Golan, has ordered his brigade commanders to carry out arrest raids on Palestinian towns only in cases of vital necessity," Israel Radio said.

Over the past two days, a divisional commander has refused to authorize a number of initiated operations, it said.

Meanwhile, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip on Monday fired a rocket into the western Negev. There were no injuries or damages in the incident.

The reported order came after an incident early this month in which a botched arrest raid in Ramallah marred a summit between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak later the same day. Four Palestinians were killed and 20 wounded in the raid, in which IDF undercover troops entered Ramallah, setting off protests and gunbattles in the center of town.

When the summit in Sharm el-Sheikh ended, Mubarak told reporters at joint press conference with Olmert: "I expressed to the prime minister our indignation at what happened today in Ramallah and said that Israel and all the people in the region will achieve peace only by refraining from all practices which obstruct its course."

Despite the order against major daylight raids, night raids were continuing, the radio report said. The IDF arrested a total of 19 wanted Palestinians Sunday night and early Monday. The troops were fired on in the Jenin refugee camp and in Ramallah, but no injuries were reported.

IDF kills 2 approaching Gaza fence with explosivesThe report came hours after IDF troops late Sunday killed two Palestinian militants approaching the Gaza Strip security fence carrying explosives.

Givati Brigade forces opened fire on two figures crawling toward the fence south of Moshav Nativ Ha'asarah. A large explosion sounded, apparently from the explosives the Palestinians were wielding, and the militants were killed.

It is not clear if they had planned to cross the fence into Israeli territory or place the explosives next to the fence in order to target an IDF patrol.

IDF infantry corps on Friday discovered a bomb weighing 23 kilograms in the West Bank town of Hirbat al-Najr, south of Jenin, The battalion that found the explosives had earlier that week found an even larger bomb weighing 60 kilograms in a town west of the city.

The Central Command said there has been an increase in weight and quality of explosives being made by Palestinian militants in the West Bank. Terror organizations in the northern West Bank are working toward developing explosives that could be effective on bullet-proof vehicles, with the help of information transferred from militants in Gaza.