The IDF was holding positions at press time that it seized
Monday night in the West Bank village of Beit Jalla in
retaliation for renewed shooting at the Jerusalem neighborhood
of Gilo. Despite the incursion into Beit Jalla, Palestinian
gunmen were still firing sporadically at Gilo on Tuesday
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was expected to convene the
security cabinet to discuss whether to maintain Israel's
presence in Beit Jalla or to withdraw the troops positioned
As helicopters hovered overhead, IDF tanks and bulldozers
entered Beit Jala at around 1 A.M. Tuesday, and took control
of several homes and positions from where Palestinian gunmen
were firing on Gilo. IDF paratroopers and the engineering
corps participated in the operation.
The political echelon authorized the strike Monday evening,
with Foreign Minister Shimon Peres the only dissenter saying
that the way to halt the shooting at Gilo was by talking to
Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, Israel Radio
One source said it was possible that the IDF would stay in
Beit Jala, "for several hours, possibly even several days."
Justice Minister Meir Sheetrit (Likud) said Tuesday the army
would "stay in Beit Jalla as long as is needed." If the
shooting at Gilo continued, he added, "we will seize the whole
town if necessary."
Transport Minister Ephraim Sneh (Labor) was more circumspect,
saying that the plan was "not to conquer Beit Jalla."
IDF troops and tanks also thrust into the Rafah refugee camp
in southern Gaza overnight, and tore down eight homes which
gunmen were using to fire from at IDF positions. The forces
withdrew after completing the operation.
Heavy exchanges of fire between gunmen in Beit Jala and IDF
troops in Gilo began Monday evening. A 62-year-old Gilo
resident was lightly wounded by Palestinian gunfire and was
taken to hospital. A synagogue and five apartments were also
damaged in the shooting.
Meir Lichsenberg, a 35-year-old Israeli, was murdered Monday
when the car he was travelling in was shot at, on the road
between the West Bank settlements of Elon Moreh and Itamar.
Lichsenberg, an Itamar resident who was travelling in the car
with four other people, was shot in the head and driven to a
nearby IDF post. He was taken by helicopter to Tel Hashomer
Hospital, where he later died of his injuries.
In retaliation for the attack, IDF tanks destroyed a
Palestinian Authority roadblock in the Nablus area.
The Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine, whose
leader Abu Ali Mustafa was killed in an Israeli assassination
earlier Monday, took responsibility for the attack saying it
was a response to the killing of its leader. However,
observers said that it had probably been planned earlier.
This is the third shooting attack in which Israelis have been
killed in the West Bank in the first two days of this week.