Four Israelis Killed in Two Separate Suicide Attacks Near Jerusalem and In Gaza Strip
Two Israeli soldiers and one woman settler were killed and four others injured, two seriously and two moderately, in a shooting attack in the Gaza Strip Monday evening.
This ambush, on the road between the Gush Katif bloc of settlements and the Kissufim crossing into Israel, took place less than two hours after an Israeli police officer was killed and another injured when a car bomb exploded on the road between the West Bank settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim and Jerusalem.
According to reports, the gunman who carried out the Gush Katif ambush was also killed.
The armed Palestinian opened fire at short-range on a convoy of Israeli cars, and threw either handgrenades or a bomb at the cars. Israeli troops arrived at the scene and following the ensuing gun battle, the Palestinian blew himself up using either an explosives belt or a bomb he was carrying, Haaretz reported.
A splinter group of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah group -- the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades -- was responsible for the assault. The group announced that the attacker was Muhammad al Qasir.
An Israeli police officer was killed and at least one other injured when a car bomb exploded on the road between the West Bank settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim and Jerusalem Monday afternoon.
A mobile unit from the Ma'aleh Adumim police force spotted a car heading toward Jerusalem not far from A-Za’im roadblock, Haaretz daily reported. The officers called in the license plates to check if the vehicle was stolen and noticed that the driver had stopped the car, and was trying to escape on foot toward the Palestinian village of Azzariyah.
The officers managed to apprehend the Palestinian and started questioning him about the car. As they were walking toward the vehicle, the officers were informed that the car was indeed stolen. The Palestinian then activated the bomb, most probably by remote control.
The second police officer was lightly wounded. It is believed that the Palestinian was coming from one of the Palestinian villages around Jerusalem, such as Abu Dis. Israeli Police believe that the Palestinian was heading for Jerusalem and was planning to carry out an attack in the heart of the city.
Earlier, armed Palestinians in Beit Jala opened fire on southern Jerusalem's Gilo neighborhood. There were no casualties in the attack. One vehicle and three apartments were damaged in the shooting, Israel Radio reported.
Also on Monday, a bomb exploded alongside an Israeli bus traveling through the West Bank. There were no casualties in the Sanur-area attack, Israel Radio reported, however, the bus was damaged as a result of the blast.
In the Gaza Strip, Palestinian gunners fired a mortar shell at an Israeli army post located on the Karni-Netzarim settlement road. Earlier Monday afternoon, a bomb exploded nearby an occupation position in the same area. There were no casualties in either incident, Israel Radio reported.
On Monday, Israeli troops have surrounded Jericho and prevented the exit of residents from this city. The closure of Jericho was re-imposed after a shooting attack on an Israeli officer occurred near Nabi Musa on Sunday. The officer was lightly injured during the shooting.
The Palestinian gunmen escaped into Jericho, Israel Radio reported. As of Monday evening, Hebron is the only West Bank Palestinian city not under Israeli siege.
Israeli Minister Supports Reoccupying
Meanwhile, Israeli Minister without Portfolio Danny Naveh told Israel army radio on Monday that Israel should reoccupy part of the territories under Palestinian control in order to prevent deadly attacks by Palestinian groups, AFP reported.
"For the first time I propose a partial re-occupation of Zone A territory, as well as much more far-reaching military operations against terrorism," said Naveh.
"It is the only solution we have since Yasser Arafat has abandoned the voice of peace to adopt a strategy of terror," he said, referring to the Palestinian leader.
Meanwhile, Israel’s Communications Minister Reuven Rivlin, one of the more centrist members of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Likud party, said Sharon ought to, "take into account the US position" in his policies towards the Palestinians.
"The Americans are hoping we don't get over-excited," Rivlin emphasized in a radio broadcast.
According to Israeli commentators, United States President George W. Bush asked Sharon at the end of last month not to get involved in a military escalation with the Palestinians, which might hinder US preparations for an eventual attack on Iraq.
In addition, Israel’s Deputy Defense Minister Dalia Rabin-Philosof, a member of the Labor party, told Israel’s Public Radio that Sharon had two options.
"He must settle the argument between those who advocate a reoccupation of Zone A, and those who, like me, want to kick-off an initiative which would examine the political options for reaching a lasting cease-fire," the Deputy Minister stated.
Sharon convened his security cabinet on Sunday to review Israel's military reaction in view of a series of attacks against Israelis over the weekend, but no concrete decision was taken, Army Radio said.
Sharon has made it clear to Washington that the reaction of the Israeli army is likely to be forceful over the coming days, however it would not "fundamentally change the nature of the game", Israel public television added. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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