Although unrest on the Gaza strip is nothing new, this week some striking events unfolded. Israel severed communication with the Palestinian Authority President Yassir Arafat Thursday morning, declaring him "irrelevant," then unleashed a string of attacks on Palestinian targets in the West Bank and Gaza strip throughout the day Thursday. Early Friday morning, Israeli troops raided four Palestinian towns and villages in the West Bank, killing seven Palestinians in gunbattles and arresting dozens of suspected militants. Another development on Friday was the pullout of American envoy Anthony Zinni, who had been in the region to negotiate a truce. The continuing violence is part of a heated cycle of attack and retaliation that began when Palestinian suicide bombers killed 25 Israelis in Jerusalem and Haifa the first weekend of December.