Hamas claims responsibility for killing Israeli kidnap victim

Hamas claimed responsibility yesterday for the kidnapping and killing of an Israeli in the West Bank, saying it had intended to ransom him for the release of jailed comrades.

The body of Sasson Nuriel, 50, who disappeared last week, was discovered outside Ramallah on Monday.

The Palestinian militant group released a videotape showing Nuriel seated on a chair in front of a green Hamas flag, blindfolded and with his hands tied behind his back. The kidnapping appeared to signal a new tactic by Palestinian forces against Israel.

Israeli forces arrested a Palestinian suspect in the case, even as mass detentions were carried out in the West Bank following rocket attacks by Hamas and others in Gaza.

Israel has launched air strikes against Palestinian targets for the past five days after Hamas and other groups fired a barrage of rockets into southern Israel from Gaza.

The Israeli military has killed at least two Hamas fighters and the military leader of Islamic Jihad in southern Gaza, reports Seattle Times.

According to LA Times Hamas said Sunday that it would stop launching attacks from Gaza, and the group and a dozen smaller armed factions, including Islamic Jihad, have announced they would abide by the terms of a temporary cease-fire with Israel.

In his warning Tuesday, Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz singled out Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Mahmoud Zahar, saying that unless attacks from Gaza ceased, Israel would send the men "to where Abdulaziz Rantisi and Sheik [Ahmed] Yassin are."

Yassin, one of the founding leaders of Hamas, was killed last year by an Israeli missile strike in Gaza City. Israel assassinated Rantisi, who succeeded Yassin, less than a month later. Israeli officials have said they would respond to attacks from Gaza far more vigorously after ending Israel's 38-year occupation of the strip this month.


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