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ARABS-ISRAEL - Oct. 14 - Sniper Attack.

Israeli snipers kill Abdel Rahman Hamad, a 35-year-old member of Hamas, at about 7 am when he was on the roof of his home in the West Bank town of Qalqilya, near the Green Line separating Israel and a PA-controlled part of the West Bank. (The shooting marks a return to Israel's policy of targeted killings. There have been no such assassinations since Sept. 26, when Arafat and FM Peres endorsed a ceasefire. Hamad had a long record of militant activity against Israel, and was imprisoned seven times by Israeli forces. Israeli officials say Hamad was the mastermind behind the June 1 attack on a Tel Aviv discotheque that left 22 people dead and dozens injured. After the June 1 attack, he was also arrested by the PA and held for about two months. He was released in August). Israeli cabinet secretary Gideon Star says: "We're going to take all the necessary steps to secure our citizens because we don't have any other choice. If we won't do that we will face terrible terror attacks inside our cities, in our streets". The assassination appears to sharpen tensions between Israel and the US, which has led intensified international efforts to nudge the two sides towards the negotiating table. A US diplomat calls the killing of Hamad "unhelpful", adding: "Now is the time when we've been urging the Israelis to ease up in response to Arafat making efforts to lower the violence". Later in the day, Hamas militants vowed revenge for Hamad's death. PA Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo said: "The assassination today is a clear indicator that all the Israeli claims that they want to achieve peace and uphold the ceasefire are just lies". Just hours after Hamad's killing, PM Sharon said Israel was set to withdraw from two PA neighbourhoods in Hebron, seized by the Army on Oct. 4 in response to Palestinian sniper attacks on Jewish enclaves lying below. Sharon said PA security forces would take control of the neighbourhood and ensure there would be no further Palestinian sniping. He added that Israeli forces were prepared to re-occupy the neighbourhoods in the event of Palestinian attacks. The announcement was met with harsh criticism from Hebron's community of Jews and hardliners. It also triggered unusually public criticism from the Army Chief of Staff Gen. Shaul Mofaz, who said on Oct. 13 that he opposed withdrawing troops from the PA neighbourhoods. He added that such a move would "threaten the security of Israeli citizens and soldiers". Such public criticism brought a withering response from Sharon, who called it "unprecedented interference" in a political decision. Defence Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer was reported to have threatened to fire Gen. Mofaz.
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:7ISRA
Date:Oct 20, 2001
Previous Article:UAE - Oct. 9 - Blair Visits.
Next Article:ARABS-ISRAEL - Oct. 15 - Arafat Urges Israel To Resume Talks.

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