Palestinian kills two Israelis on Jewish New Year
( 2003-09-27 09:39) (Agencies)
A Palestinian gunman shot dead a two-month-old baby girl and a man who opened the door to him at a Jewish settlement in the West Bank on Friday as Israelis celebrated the Jewish New Year.
The shooting dealt a new blow to a U.S.-backed peace "road map" shortly after international mediators meeting in New York urged both sides to take steps to implement it. It was sure to anger Israelis and could provoke a tough response.
"We have two dead people, a 28-year-old man and a baby girl of two months," an emergency medical worker said by telephone from the Negohot settlement near the West Bank city of Hebron.
On the eve of the third anniversary of a Palestinian uprising for statehood, Israel was on high alert. It had barred Palestinians from entering, except for humanitarian reasons, until Rosh Hashanah ends at sunset on Sunday.
A military spokesman said the man was a New Year guest who unwittingly opened the door to the attacker when he knocked at a house at nine p.m. local time after infiltrating the settlement.
The military spokesman said it was the 15th attack launched by Palestinians on a Friday evening, the Jewish Sabbath, or a Jewish holiday since the uprising began.
It revived memories of a Palestinian suicide bombing which killed 29 people as they sat down for the traditional seder meal at the start of Passover in a hotel in the Mediterranean coastal city of Netanya on March 27 last year.
"This shows again the ugly face of Palestinian terrorists," said Jonathan Peled, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman.
"It shows they are totally oblivious to the sanctity of life, the sanctity of religion. This is a barbaric act which raises a question about whether we have a partner on the other side."
He said it would take time to decide how to respond to the attack but expected no major change in policy. Israel has responded to recent suicide bombings and other attacks by launching missile strikes to kill Islamic militant leaders.
Palestinian militants say they have carried out the recent attacks because Israel failed to lift military blockades and continued killing Palestinians despite a truce they had announced. Israel said the militants used the truce to regroup.
Palestinians regard Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as major obstacles to peace and have regularly attacked them. The international community regards settlements as illegal under international law. Israel disputes this.
The United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations said after a meeting in New York earlier on Friday that Israel must stop building settlements. It urged the Palestinian Authority to crack down on militants who carry out attacks.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said it was time for "bold steps" to end the violence but Israel and the Palestinians blamed each other for the stalemate in peace efforts.
"The first thing that must be done for progress to be made on the road map is that the Palestinians must stop terrorism and incitement," a senior Israeli government source said.
Nabil Abu Rdainah, an aide to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, said: "The aim of the Israeli government is to waste time and avoid implementing the road map, which is going to harm the interests of everybody, including the United States."
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