Gunman kills 3 Israelis in Gaza settlement
( 2003-10-24 14:08) (Agencies)
A Palestinian gunman killed three Israelis and
wounded two others early Friday after infiltrating a Jewish settlement in Gaza,
Israeli officials said. The attack came as Israel disclosed that a security
barrier being built along the West Bank could become a unilaterally imposed
border annexing the strategic Jordan River Valley to Israel.
|Palestinians and paramedics carry the body
of Bader Mosa who was killed in an explosion in the West Bank town of
Ramallah, Oct. 23 , 2003. [AP]|
In the Gaza attack, military officials said the
infiltrators crossed the exterior fence at Netazarim settlement and opened fire.
They did not enter the settlement itself, the sources said, speaking on
condition of anonymity. Two of the dead were women and the other a man, Israel
Radio reported, and the seriously wounded Israeli is a woman.
Soldiers searching for the Palestinians shot and killed one, the
officials said, and were looking for another. Israel Radio said dense fog
hampered the search.
No group claimed of responsibility for the violence in Netzarim, a
heavily guarded settlement southwest of Gaza City and the focus of other
infiltration attempts. About 7,000 Israelis live in Jewish settlements in Gaza,
amid about 1 million Palestinians.
In an earlier attack, three Israelis were wounded by a Palestinian gunman
in the Gaza area late Thursday, according to settlers and rescue services. The
attacker was killed. The militant group Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for
The Gaza Strip is surrounded by a security fence, which has
prevented most attempted infiltrations from Gaza into Israel.
Separately, a senior Israeli official
said the Jordan River Valley, at the eastern edge of the West Bank, must remain
under Israeli security control, and the plan for a fence that would cut the
valley off from the rest of West Bank has been approved. However, no funds have
yet been allocated for its construction, the official said on condition of
|Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi Arabia's
Ambassador to the United States, indicates how close he has seen peace
efforts between Israel and the Palestinians come before failing in the
past, while conducting a rare news conference at Tufts University's
Fletcher School in Medford, Massachusetts, Oct. 23, 2003.
Up to now, most attention has been focused on the other side of the West
Bank, where Israel has completed the first section of the barrier and has
approved the route for the rest.
Also Thursday, Israel disclosed plans to build nearly 300 homes in West
Bank settlements, despite a freeze on construction required by a U.S.-backed
peace plan. Palestinians condemned the project and urged the United States to
The construction of 273 apartments in West Bank settlements was disclosed
by Israel's Housing Ministry, which published an Israeli newspaper ad inviting
contractors to bid on them. The apartments are slated for Karnei Shomron, a
settlement deep in the northern West Bank, and Givat Zeev, on the outskirts of
The U.S.-backed "road map" plan requires a freeze on construction in the
roughly 150 Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Palestinians
hope to establish an independent state in the two territories, which Israel
captured during the 1967 Middle East war.
The Palestinians also have not implemented road map obligations ¡ª mainly
that they disarm and dismantle militant groups ¡ª and the plan is stalled, with
each side blaming the other, violence continuing and contacts almost entirely
The construction "is a reflection that this Israeli
government has chosen the path of settlements and dictation rather than peace
and negotiation," said Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian peace negotiator. "We
urge the Bush administration to stop this policy, because this is obstacle No. 1
|A Palestinian man walks next to a new
section of the wall Israel is building between Israel and the Palestinian
territories near the Palestinian West Bank village of Masha Oct. 23,
2003. [AP] |
Asked about the new settlement activity, U.S. State Department spokesman
Adam Ereli said in Washington, "We have made our policy clear, which is that,
under the road map, Israel has made a commitment to stop settlement activity.
Sticking to that commitment is important."
The Israeli government says it needs the new buildings because of the
"natural growth" of the settlements. However, the "road map" does not take that
into account in its blanket building freeze.
A senior Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said all
the units were in existing communities and did not involve the confiscation of
The more than 220,000 settlers living in the West Bank and Gaza provide a
strong base of support for Sharon's government, and a settlement freeze poses
political difficulties. The housing minister, Effi Eitam, is a hard-line
advocate of the settlers.
An associate of Yasser Arafat, meanwhile, said the Palestinian leader was
unnerved by an army raid near his compound this week, and clenched a submachine
gun while declaring he felt the "smell of paradise."
Israel has said it would "remove" Arafat at an unspecified time, but has not
explained whether this means expulsion or assassination. Israeli Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon said this week that Arafat is the major obstacle to peace, but in
an earlier newspaper interview backtracked from threats to expel the Palestinian
The Arafat aide said the Palestinian leader was jittery as Israeli forces
surrounded a mosque about a half-mile from his Ramallah headquarters.
Arafat, who has been confined to his compound in the West Bank town for
nearly two years, feared Israeli troops might come after him, the aide said,
declining to be identified. Arafat, who was holding a submachine gun in addition
to his pistol, closed windows and shouted orders at his guards to take up
Arafat insisted he would not be taken alive if the Israelis try to expel him.
"I feel the smell of paradise," Arafat reportedly said.
Elsewhere in the West Bank, masked Palestinian gunmen killed two Palestinians
accused of being informants for Israel and displayed their bodies in the central
square of the Tulkarem refugee camp.
Israeli intelligence makes frequent use of Palestinian informants to target
wanted Palestinians, and dozens of suspected collaborators have been killed by
fellow Palestinians during three years of violence.
An Israeli military court, meanwhile, sentenced a 23-year-old Palestinian
woman to 320 years in prison for helping plan and carry out an August 2001
suicide bombing at a Jerusalem pizzeria that killed 15 people, including two