Gaza and West Bank closed

Jerusalem - Israel is to close off Gaza and the West Bank from today until Sunday in the wake of the two suicide bombs south of Gaza City, writes Patrick Cockburn. The police are also recommending heavier restrictions, with fewer entry points, on Palestinians entering Israel.

Meanwhile, 300 members of Islamic Jihad and Hamas have been arrested in Gaza on orders from the PLO chairman, Yasser Arafat, but Palestinian parties were yesterday trying to defuse talk of civil war. Sheikh Sayid Abu Musbah, of Hamas, denounced the arrests, but added: "Hamas will not turn its rifles on the Palestinian Authority."