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>Israel Faxx
>JN April 3, 2001, Vol. 9, No. 60

Israeli Charged with Murder and Selling Weapons to Palestinians

By VOA News

A Jewish man has been arrested for murder and the theft of weapons that he allegedly sold to Palestinians. Police said the suspect employed six Arab workers to carry out his plan in Kibbutz Menara in northern Israel.

All seven suspects have now confessed to their crimes. The victim was a kibbutz security officer. Most of the stolen arms, M-16 assault rifles and large quantities of ammunition, were allegedly sold to Palestinians.

Palestinian Militant, Israeli Soldier Dead in Latest Violence

By VOA News

Israeli helicopter gunships killed an activist of the militant group Islamic Jihad in a rocket attack on his car in the Gaza strip Monday, and in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Palestinians shot dead an Israeli soldier.

Palestinian security officials and witnesses say the Gaza victim was driving in the southern town of Rafah when rockets struck his car, burning it to twisted metal. Another man in the car was injured, along with several bystanders.

An Israel Air Force Cobra helicopter gunship fired two or three missiles at the car, killing leading Islamic Jihad terrorist Muhammed Abdel Al, a major planner of the Beit Lid terrorist attack six years ago, which killed over 20 soldiers. In the summer of 1994, he killed an IDF soldier near Morag Junction in Gaza. He also masterminded the attacks against school buses in Kfar Darom and Netzarim.

The attack appeared to be the latest in a series of targeted assassinations by Israeli forces of Palestinians suspected in anti-Israeli bombings. Israel Radio said the Jihad activist was on Israel's most-wanted list. Spokesmen for Islamic Jihad promised revenge.

Also Monday, an Israeli soldier was killed during a gun battle with Palestinians in the West Bank town of Bethlehem. Each side blamed the other for the fighting. Several Palestinians, including children, were wounded when Israeli tanks fired rounds at refugee camps in the town. Elsewhere, a car bomb exploded near a group of Israeli soldiers in the Nablus area of the West Bank, but the army says no one was hurt.

Bush Says U.S. Will Participate in Peace Process

By Deborah Tate (VOA-White House)

President Bush urged Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak to use his influence in the region to encourage Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat to end the violence between Israelis and Palestinians. Bush signaled that Arafat bears most of the responsibility for ending the violence that has been ongoing since September.

Bush, who has so far refused to schedule a meeting with Arafat, gave no indication he was backing down from that position during his meeting Monday with the Egyptian president.

A senior U.S. official told reporters that Bush pressed Mubarak to persuade Arafat to end the bloodshed so that peace talks can resume. The Egyptian president wields much influence in the region as the first Arab leader to make peace with Israel and leader of the most populous Arab nation. The U.S. official said Mubarak, in turn, urged Bush to use his influence with the Israelis to urge them to use restraint.

Bush assured Mubarak that the United States would have a role to play in the search for peace in the Middle East. "The role for strong countries like ourselves and Egypt is to encourage, first, the violence to end, and, secondly, for discussions to begin again. And I am very optimistic and hopeful that we will be able to achieve that."

Palestinians: Israel Plays with Fire

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

Palestinian leaders have accused Israel of "playing with fire," following the abduction of members of Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat's elite unit known as Force 17. Five security force members and a Palestinian civilian were seized during an Israeli undercover operation in the West Bank and taken into custody.

The operation is being seen as a dramatic turning point since the start of Israeli-Palestinian clashes more than six months ago. The incident marks the first time Israeli soldiers have mounted such a commando mission inside an area that is under full Palestinian control.

In the past, Israeli security forces had restricted themselves to areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip where they have clear authority under the peace accords.

The head of Palestinian Preventative Security in the West Bank, Colonel Jibril Rajoub, says the Israelis will have to accept responsibility for the consequences of their actions. He says the Israelis have "crossed a red line" and "are playing with fire."

The head of Israel's defense forces, General Shaul Mofaz, said the action is entirely justified in response to a recent wave of terror attacks inside the Jewish state, including two suicide bombings last week. He said all of the systems of the Palestinian Authority are "contaminated by terror."

The mission was carried out by the Israeli undercover unit, known as the Duvdevan. It happened near the West Bank town of Ramallah, two kms inside Palestinian controlled territory. Those arrested were reportedly targeted because they have "blood on their hands," according to Israeli security officials.

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