Tags: Two | Militants | Killed | Near | Hadera

Two Militants Killed Near Hadera

Sunday, 17 February 2002 12:00 AM

Both the Palestinians were killed Sunday in a shootout and chase by Israeli police near Hadera, halfway between Tel Aviv and Haifa, police and eyewitnesses said.

Three police officers suffered from burns after one of the militants set off a bomb he was carrying.

Police Commissioner Shlomo Aharonishki said he believed the militants planned a "combined attack involving shooting, exploding bombs (they were carrying) and possibly a car bomb."

Sunday's clash began when traffic police saw a car make an illegal U-turn near Hadera, a site of frequent militant attacks. They said they noticed the license plate numbers were wrong.

An eyewitness, who identified himself only as Yaakov, told Israel Radio he saw a police car chase the militant's car and overtake it. A police officer jumped out and ran toward the militant's car, handgun drawn, he said. A militant dressed in jeans got out of the car and fired at the officer, Yagur Schwartz, apparently hitting the man's flack jacket.

Schwartz said the attacker hurled two bombs at him, but only one exploded. He said he fired and was joined by an army reservist passing by. The reservist said he fired five bullets at the militant's head and killed him.

The second militant drove the car from the scene and was chased by two police squads. Sgt. Maj. Erez Bloom said he fired at the fleeing car and repeatedly bumped his vehicle into it. When the police car pulled alongside the fleeing vehicle, the militant reportedly detonated his bomb, killing himself and injuring three officers.

In recent days, there has been a sharp increase in Israeli-Palestinian incidents.

"The rockets we use against Israel are not fireworks as collaborators for Israel say. It is a Palestinian-made rocket and it was manufactured to serve the Palestinian cause and not to serve Hamas," said a leaflet distributed by the Hamas-armed wing, Izzel Dein al Kassam.

The incident was one of a growing number of clashes between Israelis and Palestinians over the past week.

By Sunday night, Gaza residents feared a strike on the city, with Yasser Arafat's Gaza headquarters targeted.

The day began with a pre-dawn airstrike in which Israeli F-16 warplanes and Cobra helicopter hit Palestinian Authority targets in the West Bank town of Nablus after a Saturday night suicide bombing in a West Bank settlement.

A PA security statement said F-16s attacked Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's office in the city. At the time of air strikes, Arafat was at his Ramallah office. He has been under Israeli tank blockade since December.

Cobra helicopters attacked another government building in the city and the regional police headquarters. No casualties were reported, but Palestinian residents in the town were terrified, Palestinian officials said in a statement.

Saturday night a suicide bomber penetrated a West Bank settlement, killing two teenagers at a pizzeria and injuring 27 others. Other militants shot and killed an Israeli soldier at a roadblock, while the commander of an undercover unit involved with counter-terror operations was killed when a wall collapsed on him during a raid.

Palestinian medical sources at Shiffa Hospital in Gaza said a 17-year-old Palestinian died on Sunday of wounds he suffered Saturday during clashes with Israeli troops who entered into the al Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza Strip. Three other Palestinians also were killed during the clashes.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a top aide to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, warned the Israeli government of continuing "the Israeli military aggression and escalation against the Palestinians."

"The world must move as immediately as possible to prevent this deterioration," Abu Rudeineh told United Press International. "The war that Israel is leading against the Palestinians will never bring the Israeli people either peace or security."

Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer Sunday told the Cabinet the escalation has led to the death of nine Israelis in the past week.

Palestinian groups are now "competing among themselves to perpetrate as many attacks as possible while (Palestinian leader Yasser) Arafat and the Palestinian Authority do almost nothing to halt the escalation," Ben-Eliezer said in a statement.

"The intensive and continuous Israeli army aggression on our defenseless people obliged us to fire these rockets. If the aggression stops, we would stop," said the Hamas-armed wing leaflet.

The continued friction is pushing some Israelis to advocate more drastic action, including an expulsion of Palestinians, while others Saturday night demonstrated for a withdrawal from the occupied territories.

Hardline Public Security Minister Uzi Landau called for crushing the Palestinian Authority. Infrastructure Minister Avigdor Liberman said if Palestinians fire at Giloh, a settlement near Jerusalem, the Israeli army should occupy Beit Jalla and the parts of Bethlehem and Beit Sahur that face southern Jerusalem.

Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, who is negotiating with the Palestinians, said Israel must take "all the steps to hit terror but not give up on the political option."

Earlier Sunday leading commentators said the current situation could not continue.

Haaretz Defense commentator, Zeev Schiff, wrote that after 15 months of confrontations, "There is no escaping the conclusion that the Sharon government does not have any military solution to Palestinian terrorism and violence. Israel and the Palestinians are locked in an ever-worsening military spiral which is yet to reach its peak."

Maariv's editor, Amnon Dankner wrote: "This situation cannot continue for more weeks and months without something busting. If there is a policy, military or political, tactical or strategic, let it appear now."

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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Both the Palestinians were killed Sunday in a shootout and chase by Israeli police near Hadera, halfway between Tel Aviv and Haifa, police and eyewitnesses said. Three police officers suffered from burns after one of the militants set off a bomb he was carrying. ...
Sunday, 17 February 2002 12:00 AM
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