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>Israel Faxx
>JN Aug. 28, 2001, Vol. 9, No. 147

Israel Faxx will not be published from Aug. 30 to Sept. 12

Israel Kills PFLP Chief

By Meredith Buel (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel has killed the leader of the radical Palestinian faction, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Abu Ali Mustafa, chief of the PFLP, was killed when missiles fired by Israeli combat helicopters slammed into his office in the West Bank town of Ramallah. The attack blew out windows and blackened the outside of the building. Inside, broken bloodstained furniture and shattered glass littered the floor.

The PFLP is a militant faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization that opposes peace talks with Israel. Mustafa is the highest-ranking Palestinian official to be killed in a targeted Israeli attack since the current conflict began 11 months ago.

During the period, more than 50 Palestinians have been killed in operations by the Israeli military. The Israeli army said in a statement that the PFLP is responsible for a series of attacks on Israelis, including an attempted car bombing in Jerusalem last week.

Israeli government spokesman, Raanan Gissen defended the decision to kill Mustafa. "We have a policy, which is actions of self-defense that we take when we see that there are terrorists who are planning, instigating, terrorist activity. He was not taken out because of just past events or past terrorist activity, but the fact that he was planning, while he was sitting in his office, additional car bombs."

The Palestinian Authority said in a statement that Israel "has opened the gates to an all-out war" by killing Mustafa. A spokesman for Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, Nabil Abu Rudeina, called Israel's policy of "assassinations, very dangerous. This is a real murder. This assassination is a dangerous escalation and the situation will become definitely worse and worse."

Mustafa replaced George Habash as the leader of the PFLP last year and had been second in command of the group when it drew world attention to the Palestinian struggle by hijacking planes in the 1960s and 1970s. He returned to the West Bank from exile in 1999, and was described as one of the top figures in the PLO.

U.S. Repeats Opposition to Mideast 'Targeted Killings'

By David Gollust (VOA-State Department)

The Bush administration has repeated its opposition to so-called "targeted killings" by Israel following the rocket attack Monday that killed a senior Palestinian figure in the West Bank.

Officials in Washington are monitoring the clashes with growing concern and with State Department spokesman Richard Boucher saying the escalation of recent days threatens to "overwhelm" any chance of restoring calm and getting the parties to implement the peace blueprint of the Mitchell committee.

Briefing reporters, Boucher said both sides know exactly what needs to be done to end the confrontation - and that "above all" the Palestinian Authority needs to take "sustained and credible" steps to pre-empt anti-Israel terrorism and arrest those responsible.

He said Israel for its part must take the economic and security steps necessary to alleviate what he termed "pressure, hardships, and humiliations" of the Palestinian people.

The spokesman said Israel has a right to defend itself in the face of terrorism but that both sides must avoid actions that make the situation worse.

"We think Israel needs to understand that targeted killings of Palestinians don't end the violence but are only inflaming an already volatile situation, making it much harder to restore calm," said Boucher. "We're deeply troubled by the fact that civilians, including more than 20 American citizens - some of whom were children - were living in the building which was attacked over the weekend."

Boucher had no reaction to a call from a PFLP spokesman in Damascus for attacks on American interests in the Middle East after the killing of Mustafa.

Powell Won't Attend Racism Conference

By Jim Malone (VOA-Washington)

The United States says Secretary of State Colin Powell will boycott the U.N. Conference on Racism beginning Friday in South Africa because of what it calls offensive anti-Israel language in the agenda.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the exact nature and level of U.S. representation, if any, is still being considered. Boucher also said that last minute attempts by conference organizers to remove the offensive language from the agenda are not enough. In an apparent reference to Israel, Boucher said the agenda still refers to the racist policies of one country. In Johannesburg, U.N. Human Rights High Commissioner Mary Robinson, the secretary-general of the conference, said that the controversial language equating Zionism with racism has been "done away with."

She called on all countries to attend the conference at the highest level possible to help in the fight against racism. Israeli officials said Monday that Israel will likely boycott the Durban conference.

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