No end in sight to Gaza Strip terror attacks

Four armed Palestinians were killed early Thursday morning when they tried to infiltrate into the Gaza Strip settlement of Kfar Darom. Soldiers from the Givati Brigade spotted the cell members and opened fire on them. The terrorists returned fire before being killed. There were no Israeli casualties in the gunfire exchange. During the month of April, nearly thirty armed Palestinians have been killed during attempts to infiltrate into Jewish communities in Gaza.

Palestinian sources reported that shortly after the Kfar Darom incident, Israeli forces advanced some 300 meters into Palestinian territory adjoining the settlement. In an ensuing exchange of gunfire, a Palestinian policeman was killed and two others were reportedly injured by Israeli tank fire directed at their post.

This week, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon indicated that the IDF may increase operations against terrorist activities in the Gaza Strip. Though Operation Defensive Shield is reported to have dealt a serious blow to terrorist infrastructure in the West Bank, the army has not recently launched any major counter-terrorism incursions into Gaza.

"There will be no place where terrorists are immune" from attack, Sharon told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, in response to a question from MK Uri Ariel (National Union/Yisrael Beiteinu), who asked why the IDF has not operated in the Gaza Strip and Hebron.

Sharon revealed today that his son, Omri, met last Saturday with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's economic advisor, Mohammed Rashid, in order to get assurances that the Palestinian security forces would take steps to crack down on violence. In an interview with the New York Times, Sharon said he would consider allowing Arafat to leave his besieged Mukata compound in Ramallah and go to Gaza, to demonstrate whether he would order his forces to combat Palestinian violence there.

Palestinian teenagers taking part in suicide attacks

Overnight on Tuesday, a unit of reservists spotted three Palestinians approaching the security fence around Netzarim, in the central Gaza Strip. As the three were crawling towards the fence, the soldiers opened fire on them and killed them. At daybreak, soldiers searching the area discovered an explosive charge, a hand grenade, an axe and knives. The soldiers were shocked to discover that the three armed Palestinians were teenagers.

The three boys, identified as Yusef Zakut, 15, Ismail Abu Nada, 13, and Anwar Hamduna, 13, attended school as usual on Tuesday and told their parents they were going to visit friends. But instead, they left farewell letters to their parents and prepared for their mission with makeshift explosives.

"I want my grave to be like the grave of Muhammad, not so big," Zakut wrote, adding how he would like to be mourned: "Don't cry for me. Bury me with my brothers the martyrs. And visit my grave if you have time." "It's a heroic act," said Muhammad Bakar, 16, one of the scores of teenagers who attended Zakut's funeral. "Everybody wants to do it." Ha'aretz reported that the Islamic Jihad had sent the three teenagers. Palestinian parents reportedly expressed shock that teenagers were being recruited and both Islamic Jihad and Hamas issued statements denying responsibility and urging children not to take part in suicide attacks. On Monday, an IDF force identified a suspected Palestinian terrorist trying to penetrate the area around Dugit in the northern Gaza Strip. As the soldiers attempted to apprehend the terrorist, he threw a suspicious object and tried to escape. The force shot and killed him.

A week ago, an Israeli force spotted two suspicious people approaching Dugit, and opened fire on them. As the soldiers approached the area, one of the Palestinians jumped out of the bushes and tried to stab the company's commander. Soldiers shot and killed the attacker, and discovered that he was a 15-year-old teenager who had been sent on a suicide mission in the settlement. Two pipe bombs, a knife and a map of Dugit were discovered nearby.

Israeli forces briefly enter Hebron, Beit Kahil

Palestinian sources said that 10 Israeli tanks and 10 armored personnel carriers briefly entered the city of Hebron early Thursday. In gunfire exchanges there, Force 17 member Ahmed Bashar was killed, and four other Palestinians were wounded. The IDF's elite Duvdevan unit had been trying to trap a senior wanted militant near Hebron's Islamic College, Ha'aretz reported.

In a separate incident, Duvdevan soldiers operating in the village of Beit Kahil, northwest of Hebron, arrested senior Fatah member Muatez Aymouni. The IDF Spokesman reported that five Palestinian policemen opened fire on the troops from a passing car, and that all five were killed when the soldiers returned fire.

Overnight, Border Police shot and killed a Palestinian near the Tunnels Road linking Jerusalem to the Gush Etzion bloc of settlements. The Palestinian reportedly got out of his car near a roadblock and detonated a bomb inside the vehicle, setting it aflame. Policemen said the terrorist threw rocks and other objects at them and then they shot him dead. Two members of the Palestinian Intelligence force were arrested by an undercover Border Police unit overnight in the village of Kuzra south of Nablus. According to security officials, the two carried out the attack at the army's Ein Arik checkpoint near Ramallah two months ago, in which six soldiers were killed.

Security forces stopped a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance near Kalkilya Wednesday night and discovered that one of the "medics" was actually a Palestinian wanted for questioning by the Shin Bet. The man was arrested and the ambulance was allowed to continue on its way.

Ellis Shuman Israelinsider

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