GAZA CITY, 27 October — Israel yesterday continued its policy of
assassinations when its troops gunned down three members of the Palestinian
resistance movement Hamas near a Jewish settlement in the northern Gaza Strip in
the second such attack this month. Israeli Army radio said troops had
intercepted four Palestinians for what it said were trying to breach the
security fence surrounding the Dugit settlement and killed three. It said the
fourth apparently escaped into Palestinian territory.
Israeli radio reported the Hamas activists had come from nearby Beit Lahiya
village. Israeli tanks stationed outside Dugit and the neighboring settlement of
Alei Sinai resorted to firing shells and shooting heavy machine-guns into the
area around Beit Lahiya and penetrated into Palestinian territory, a Palestinian
security source said.
Hamas identified its dead as Othman Al-Razayna, 22, Iyad Al-Batesh, 21, from
Jabalia refugee camp outside of Gaza City, and Fuad Al-Dhashan, 17, from Gaza
City. “Our Mujahedeen (fighters) opened fire, crushing Israel’s military
imperialists in Dugit settlement, which is on our land in northern Gaza,” the
group’s military wing, Ezzedine Al-Qassem, said in a statement.
Hamas said its men launched a mortar bomb at the settlement, fired
machine-guns and threw more than 20 grenades during a 30-minute exchange of
Alei Sinai was the scene of a similar Hamas attack on Oct. 2 when two
militants seized a house and killed an Israeli woman soldier and her boyfriend
and wounded 15 others before being shot and killed by Israeli snipers. That
attack sparked a violent response from Israel, which bombarded official
buildings in Gaza City and sent tanks into a Palestinian area in raids that left
six Palestinians dead.
A 25-year-old Palestinian who was shot and critically wounded in the chest by
Israeli soldiers in Beit Hanun in the Gaza Strip on Oct. 8 has also died of his
wounds, Palestinian sources said. Israeli troops also shot dead an Israeli
Bedouin Arab who tried to force his way into the Gaza Strip at the wheel of his
tractor for reasons that were not immediately clear, an army statement said. The
incident at Dugit came as Israeli forces maintained their grip on six
Palestinian cities in the West Bank despite pledging a phased withdrawal after
coming under heavy international pressure.
A joint Israeli-Palestinian security committee later reached an agreement for
the troops to withdraw from the Bethlehem-Beit Jala area tonight, an Israeli
Defense Ministry spokesman said. The self-rule cities were stormed by tanks
after Tourism Minister Rehavem Zeevi was gunned down in an east Jerusalem hotel
on Oct. 17 and some 50 Palestinians have been slain in the operations.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s spokesman Raanan Gissin said yesterday
Israel still wanted the handover of militants suspected in Zeevi’s killing and a
crackdown by the PA on hard-line groups. But Palestinian President Yasser Arafat
said the Israelis could not expect the extradition of Zeevi’s killers. “There is
a law and we are going to apply the law and apply the agreements between us and
the Israelis in this matter,” Arafat said after talks with German Foreign
Minister Joschka Fischer. “The law is the law. They have to respect the