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ARABS-ISRAEL - Dec. 27 - Six Dead After Attack In Otniel Settlement.

Two Palestinian militants open fire in a cafeteria for religious students at the settlement of Otniel, near Hebron, killing 4 Israelis before soldiers kill one of the militant. The second assailant flees the settlement and is shot dead by soldiers chasing him. Hebron and three nearby villages were put under Army curfew after the attack. The Army said in a statement: "The gunmen opened fire inside the cafeteria during the start of Sabbath prayers. There were four Israelis murdered". Al Jazeera interviewed an official of Islamic Jihad, who said the militant group carried out the attack in retaliation for Israel's killing of one of the group's leaders on Dec. 26. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman David Saranga blamed Arafat for the Otniel attack, saying the PA provided the "infrastructure" for militant attacks. (Arafat has in the past called for an end to attacks, but described raids on Jewish settlers as "self defence" because armed settlers have attacked Palestinians). PA Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo told Reuters: "This [Otniel attack] is the result of Israel's assassination policy and the killing of Palestinian civilians". Earlier in the day, mourners in Palestinian cemeteries and speakers at a fiery rally organised by Hamas militants demanded vengeance for a Palestinian killed by Israeli troops in Gaza on Dec. 25 and seven others killed in what the Army called a sweep for militants in the West Bank on Dec. 26. PA officials noted there had been no suicide attacks in Israel for more than a month and called the Israeli raids an attempt to create a volatile atmosphere that would serve PM Sharon's right-wing Likud Party in the run up to a general election set for Jan. 28. "They should not feel safe", Hamas spiritual leader Shaikh Ahmad Yassin said of Israelis at a Gaza City rally marking the 15th anniversary of the founding of the group, which has carried out dozens of suicide bombings since the start of the Palestinian uprising. "Resistance will continue as long as the occupation does", he told the tens of thousands of Palestinians present.
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Geographic Code:7PALE
Date:Dec 31, 2002
Previous Article:ARABS-ISRAEL - Dec. 26 - Seven Palestinians Killed In West Bank; Bethlehem Re-Occupied.
Next Article:ARAB-US RELATIONS - Dec. 22 - Pentagon To Deploy Large Numbers To Gulf.

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