Islamic Jihad pledges ''painful'' response to the assassination of military leader in Gaza Strip
Israeli military chiefs on Friday met to consider retaliation for a Tel Aviv suicide bombing attack, as the Islamic Jihad vowed to avenge the deaths of two of its members assassinated by Israeli gunships in Gaza on Thursday.
Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz met with army commanders and officials of the Shin Beth internal security service at the ministry's headquarters in Tel Aviv, near the scene of Thursday's bus-stop suicide attack, which killed three Israeli soldiers and one civilian.
The forum decided that the full closure on the West Bank and Gaza Strip would remain in force, although the Palestinian towns and cities themselves would not be under curfew, Israel Radio reported.
Thursday's attack came shortly after a military leader of Islamic Jihad, Maqled Humeid, was killed in Gaza City in a helicopter missile strike aimed at his car, prompting calls for revenge.
Four more Palestinians, including at least one other Islamic Jihad activist, were also killed and 13 wounded, Palestinian sources said, according to the AFP.
Islamic Jihad pledged a "painful" response to the missile strike. "This new crime will not go without punishment and the Al-Quds Battalions will inflict a painful lesson to the enemy as they have done throughout the intifada," warned a statement from Islamic Jihad's military wing.
"Israel will pay a high price for every crime it perpetrates against our people, its leaders and its cadres. We will not wait long for our reprisals," said the statement.
"The Zionist enemy (Israel) did not draw its lesson from past assassinations and did not understand that our people would not bend."
The statement said two chiefs of the Al-Quds Brigades were killed in the Israeli gunship attack. They named the men as Maqled Humeid and Nabil Shreihi.
An Islamic Jihad political leader, Khaled al-Batsh, told AFP that the raid had "annihilated the idea of sparing civilians," both Israeli and Palestinian, which had been considered in Palestinian truce talks earlier this month.
The raid "has annihilated the idea of sparing civilians which was one of the main points of the inter-Palestinian dialogue under the auspices of Egypt," said Batsh.
He accused Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of resorting to assassinations "as a means to pressure our people into accepting submission." According to him, Sharon was "entirely responsible for these crimes and for the coming retaliations by the resistance."
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)