Senior Hamas operative killed in West Bank; Israel has no plans to withdraw from Bethlehem for Christmas
Israeli forces killed Friday a senior Hamas activist, Abed al-Yusef Abu-Musa in Khirbet Ibrahim, south of Bethlehem, Palestinian sources said.
Additionally, the Israeli army arrested nine Palestinians in the West Bank early Friday morning. A Hamas activist was captured in Nablus, while troops in Qalqilyah arrested Ismail Jibril Ismail, suspected of planning to dispatch a suicide bomber to carry out an attack in Israel, Israeli sources reported.
Meanwhile, a senior Israeli military official was quoted as saying by army radio that the army does not plan to withdraw from the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem for Christmas.
"The army is not considering a withdrawal from Bethlehem because of the continuing threat of attacks," the official said Friday. He was reacting to remarks by Israeli President Moshe Katsav who told Pope John Paul II during an historic visit to the Vatican Thursday that the army would redeploy for Christmas if the threat receded.
"The president promised that if there will not be warnings of terror operations, the Israeli Army will re-deploy outside Bethlehem and in any event the Israeli Army will do everything possible to enable pilgrims to celebrate the festivities as appropriate," a Vatican statement said. (Albawaba.com)
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