PFLP calls to freeze security agreement with Israel while PA minister plans to hold talks with Hamas, Islamic Jihad
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) leader, Ahmad Saadat said the killing of his brother adds to the "crimes" of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
"The assassination of my brother and comrade Mohammed is a continuation of the series of crimes carried out by Sharon against our people," Saadat told AFP on the telephone from his jail in the West Bank city of Jericho.
Saadat's 22 year-old brother was shot dead Tuesday night as he tried to resist an Israeli special unit trying to capture him outside his home in Ramallah.
"My brother had the right to defend himself," said Saadat. "While Israel carries out this and other crimes, the world and the international community are merely watching and listening, and no one tells Israel to stop."
"Every Palestinian, children included, has become an assassination target, whether by bullets, planes or house demolitions. But these crimes will not dilute our people's determination to recover its rights," he added.
The group's retired founder, George Habash, also denounced the killing in a rare public statement from his home in Damascus. "We must freeze the security agreements signed with the Zionist enemy and intensify the armed struggle against Israeli occupation forces and settlers in response to this crime and all the other crimes which are being committed every day," Habash said.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Interior Minister, Abdel Razak Yehiyeh, who hammered out a security agreement with Israel's Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, was expected in Gaza Wednesday night for talks with Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders.
The head of the Israeli Army Southern Command, Doron Almog, met the head of Palestinian security in Gaza on Wednesday afternoon at the Erez checkpoint to discuss security control in the Strip.
The army said in a statement that the Palestinians had pledged to take immediate action to restore calm and prevent violence and the Israeli army would continue steps to ease the Palestinians' humanitarian situation. Further meeting are expected next week, the army said.
Israeli forces raided Khan Yunis refugee camp in Gaza Strip Wednesday morning, and demolished two abandoned structures believed to have served as Palestinian firing positions. According to Palestinian sources, one Palestinian was killed in the area and at least six injured when the Israeli army blew up a building.
Palestinian residents and security sources said that Israeli soldiers in some 20 tanks entered one area of the camp and shouted with megaphones for residents to leave. Helicopters flying overhead and the tanks fired heavy machineguns. The army said in a statement it "destroyed two empty buildings which served terrorists as shooting posts and shelter."
Elsewhere, Palestinian sources said the Israeli army started an operation in the Balata refugee camp near Nablus early Wednesday. The sources said that dozens of tanks surrounded the camp and that soldiers were conducting house to house searches.
Israeli security forces have captured an East Jerusalem-based Hamas cell suspected of having carried out several attacks over the past months, including the suicide bombings at Moment Cafe in Jerusalem, the night club in Rishon Letzion and the bomb attack at the Hebrew University on Mt. Scopus in which nine people died, including five Americans.
The cell was captured in Jerusalem on Saturday night, on the way to another attack, Israel Army Radio reported Wednesday afternoon. At least 15 Palestinians -- 10 of them residents of occupied east Jerusalem -- have been netted arrested, sources in the Israeli police and Shin Bet internal security service said .
In an attempt to placate the right-wing ministers in his government, Israel's Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon minimized the importance of the Israeli withdrawal from Bethlehem at a security cabinet meeting Wednesday, telling ministers that, "Basically we moved two tanks from Bethlehem."
The prime minister's comments were in reference to troop movements Monday night in Bethlehem that constituted the first phase of the plan.
The Israeli security cabinet met to review the "Gaza-Bethlehem First" deal, after rightist ministers – especially the National Religious Party which said it was considering its role in the coalition as a result of the plan – lambasted the arrangement.
At the meeting, Sharon and Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer presented the understandings that were reached with the Palestinians, although the two stressed different aspects of the plan. While Sharon tried to downplay the withdrawal, Ben-Eliezer elaborated on what he termed a "new alternative" for a cease-fire, Israel Radio reported.
Right-wing ministers attacked the decision as well as the fact that the cabinet had not discussed it before the sides began implementation. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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