Israel airstrike kills 5; Hamas challenges Abbas
Updated: 2006-03-07 09:56
An Israeli air strike killed two Islamic Jihad
militants and three other people in the Gaza Strip on Monday, including an
eight-year-old boy, Palestinian medics and witnesses said.
The Israeli army confirmed the strike on a car carrying the two militants,
which came on the eve of formal campaigning for Israel's elections on March 28
and after interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert vowed to use an "iron fist" against
"The war on terror will be
conducted in full strength as it is being conducted, in every corner, in every
place in the Gaza Strip and everywhere else," Olmert said in an recorded
interview aired on Monday on a talk show on Israel's Channel 2 television.
Hamas leader and
Palestinian Prime Minister-designate Ismail Haniyeh (L) attends a
Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) meeting with lawmakers in Ramallah
via video conference, as part of their first session as newly elected
lawmakers, at the PLC building in Gaza March 6, 2006.
Islamic militant group Hamas, which is forming a government after winning
Palestinian parliamentary elections in January, called the air strike a
"massacre". President Mahmoud Abbas said it was a "dangerous escalation" against
the Palestinian people.
The unified condemnation was in sharp contrast to the first working session
of the new Palestinian parliament, where Hamas legislators challenged Abbas by
revoking all decisions made by the previous legislature at its final session
That included legislation giving Abbas wider powers to appoint judges.
Hamas trounced Abbas's once-dominant Fatah movement in parliamentary
elections on January 25. A senior Abbas aide accused Hamas of attempting to oust
the Palestinian president.
"We see this as a coup attempt to change the regime and they have to
seriously reconsider their decisions," said the aide, Tayeb Abdel-Rahim.
In the final session of the previous parliament on February 13, majority
Fatah members pushed through an amendment to an existing law, giving Abbas power
to appoint judges to a constitutional court without seeking legislative
The judges could have been asked to decide whether laws approved by the new
parliament were constitutional. Hamas said the move effectively gave Abbas veto
power over new laws.
SPIKE IN VIOLENCE
The two Islamic Jihad militants were killed when a missile struck their car
in northern Gaza, from where militants have regularly fired makeshift rockets
Witnesses said the eight-year-old boy was killed while standing close to the
car. Two others, teenaged boys aged 14 and 15, also died, a hospital official
An Israeli military source said one of the militants killed was involved in
rocket attacks against Israel.
A Hamas spokesman condemned the strike.
"If the international community remains quiet the situation will explode,"
Sami Abu Zuhri said.
A spike in violence has increased pressure on Olmert to show he is as ready
to take tough military action as was Ariel Sharon, who remains comatose after a
stroke two months ago that propelled Olmert to the front of the election
Abbas, a moderate who helped broker a ceasefire with Israel a year ago, has
urged Hamas to put together a government that will pursue a peace agenda. Hamas
is officially committed to Israel's destruction, although has largely adhered to
Earlier on Monday, Fatah members stormed out of parliament in Ramallah in
protest at the Hamas action.
"We voted to cancel all the resolutions that were taken in the February 13
session because the entire session was unconstitutional," Hamas lawmaker Mahmoud
Ramahi told Reuters.
Israeli officials see the Hamas parliamentary victory as reinforcing a need
for unilateral action and say it dims hopes for a U.S.-backed peace "road map"
which calls for both sides to take steps to reach a negotiated settlement.
On Sunday, Israeli officials said Olmert planned a unilateral evacuation of
some settlements in the occupied West Bank if he wins the March 28 elections.
Israel quit all Jewish enclaves in the Gaza Strip in September last year.