Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

11 Nissan 5761 - April 4, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Violence Escalates as Israel Fights Back
by Yated Ne'eman Staff

In less than 24 hours, two soldiers were killed in separate incidents in the West Bank. In between the two murders of soldiers, Israeli Apache helicopters fired three missiles into the pickup truck of an Islamic Jihad fugitive in Rafah in the Gaza Strip Monday, killing him instantly.

St.-Sgt. Yaakov Krenschel of Nahariya, a reservist, was shot in the head by a Palestinian sniper as he patrolled near Salem in Samaria on Sunday night. Sgt. Danny Dara'i, 19, of Arad, was shot and killed by a sniper while guarding kever Rochel on Monday afternoon.

Security officials warned that the escalation in violence will continue and that some of it will be a response to the army's targeting of those planning attacks on Israelis.

Tanks pounded the sources of Palestinian gunfire in Bethlehem, the Al Aida refugee camp on its outskirts, and Beit Jalla. The gun battle continued for more than an hour, abated for a short period, then resumed for another hour. During the fight, the Jerusalem-Gush Etzion (tunnel) road was closed. The IDF also closed all roads leading from Bethlehem to the surrounding Palestinian villages.

Clouds of white smoke rose from the city, as Israeli tank shells slammed into the Paradise Hotel, which was turned into a sandbagged Palestinian fort from which snipers tried to pick off Israeli soldiers.

According to a senior IDF officer, Mahmoud Abed el-Al, 29, a leader of the Islamic Jihad's military wing, had participated in a number of terror attacks in recent months and had masterminded the Beit Lid bombing attack in January 1995 which claimed the lives of 21 soldiers. The officer said he was planning another operation when he was targeted.

According to Palestinians who witnessed the attack, four helicopters hovered overhead and two fired missiles at his truck.

Security officials stressed that the initiated operation was designed to harm those who perpetrate attacks against Israelis. They said they would continue targeting terrorists and Palestinian officials involved in attacks.

Security officials said Al had been involved in a series of bomb attacks in the community of Morag in Gush Katif in January and February, had planned at least two suicide bombings in 1997, and in 1994, participated in a shooting attack against an IDF patrol near Morag, killing one soldier. He was involved in planning a major attack to be carried out inside of Israel in the near future. It would have been the first such attack would have been initiated from Gaza since the current disturbances began, over six months ago. All previous attacks were launched from Yehudah or Shomron.

On Sunday night, security forces arrested Capt. Issam Blibel, a Palestinian naval officer, as he crossed the Allenby Bridge after visiting Lebanon and Jordan.

According to security officials, he is suspected of being involved in terrorist activities. His arrest came less than 24 hours after the IDF's Duvdevan unit arrested five Force 17 members and a Palestinian civilian near Jaljilya, inside PA-controlled territory.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell Monday night that Israel had been forced to step up its operations in the territories because the Palestinian Authority was not fulfilling its undertaking to end the violence.

A source close to Sharon said he had explained his policy of fighting terror while easing the plight of the Palestinian population.

Israeli military said that Hamas and the Islamic Jihad are limited in their ability to make large bombs like they made in 1995-96, since they lack competent successors to Yihiya Ayash (the Engineer), the Awadalla brothers, Mohi A-din Sharif and Mohammed Deif.

The government coordinator in the territories, Major General Yaakov Or, said Monday that alongside stepping up its fight against terrorism, Israel was continuing to ease conditions for the Palestinians in the territories.

During a tour of the Karni crossing industrial zone, where Palestinian trucks pick up and deliver merchandise to and from Israel, Or told reporters that the number of trucks now moving through the crossing was almost at the same level it was before the outbreak of the Intifadah.

The major general did, however, confirm that the economic situation in the territories was dire, saying that the decision to allow construction supplies through the crossing could help get some 30,000 Palestinians back to work.


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