In the days before the attacks in Kenya, the following took place, along with other missile assassinations of key Palestinian resistance leaders:
Ramadan 'Drummer' Shot Dead by Israelis
By John Ward Anderson
[Washington Post Foreign Service -
Thursday, November 28, 2002]:
NABLUS, West Bank, November 27 -- Raed Faour and Jihad Natour, lifelong friends, were walking through the dark, narrow street and alleys of Nablus' New Asker refugee camp early today, banging their tambourine-like drums and singing a song to wake up the Muslim faithful and announce the approaching sunrise. The drummers, as the pair and others like them are known, are a fixture in Muslim neighborhoods during the holy month of Ramadan, when families arise before daybreak to eat a meal because their religion requires them to fast from sunup to sundown.
Just before 3 a.m., as they were singing a song praising the Prophet Mohammed -- "Oh, the god of Mohammad," it went, "Take the worry from us!" -- several Israeli soldiers emerged from a dark hiding spot behind a taxi, aimed their guns at them and shouted in Arabic, "Stop! Stop!" Faour said in an interview. "They immediately started shooting," he said, and Natour hit the ground, shouting: "My brother Raed, I've been shot!"
Palestinians here said that Natour, 22, an unemployed carpenter, died in the street after Israeli soldiers refused to allow an ambulance to pass through an Army checkpoint to take him to a hospital. Local residents were outraged that such a drummer, who plays an important role in the Islamic culture, was killed while fulfilling a ritual that has been a part of Ramadan observances for generations.
"This is the height of brutality because they are attacking our culture, our customs," said a local librarian, Naama Ajouri, 37. "The drummer is the most beautiful thing we have in Ramadan. He does marvelous work, and the children all listen for his voice and wake up to have a meal so they're not hungry all day long. I'd never heard such a nice voice as Jaihad had."
An Israeli Army spokeswoman said that soldiers spotted the pair "and they were suspected because there was a curfew, and they were violating the curfew. The forces shouted at them to stop and fired a warning shot in the air, and when they refused to stop, they shot one of the suspects and he was killed."
"I don't think the soldiers knew who he was," the spokeswoman said. "It's not regular for people to walk in the street at that time of the night, and it raised questions. Two mistakes can be made. You can either shoot when you're not supposed to or not shoot when you should, and that's a judgment. It's a very violent city. We've arrested seven [would-be] suicide bombers in the city in the last two weeks."
Faour, 28, an unemployed construction worker who has been a drummer during Ramadan for four years, said it was unlikely anyone could have mistaken them for anything else. Typically, since their duty is to wake people up, drummers make so much noise that they can be heard for several blocks in all directions, and Faour said his drum was loud enough "to wake people in the next village."
"Is the musaher [the name for the drummer] also a terrorist?" said Said Natour, 37, the older brother of Jihad. "They are creating terror when they kill a person like him. Where is the peace they are talking about? My brother was an innocent person. He never harmed anyone and was never arrested. They knew he was not armed. After all, they could hear him going around with a drum."
Fasting during the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with other obligations such as praying five times a day and making the hajj to Mecca. During the fasting period from dawn to dusk Muslims are not allowed to eat, drink or smoke, so families typically wake up before sunrise to eat a meal, then have a special dinner at night.
In more traditional neighborhoods, drummers walk through the streets announcing the coming fast and add to the spirit of the season. While the job is voluntary, residents often tip the drummers with food or cash after Ramadan is over.
Early today, while banging their drums, Faour said the pair sang their usual song: "Oh, listeners of my voice: Pray for the Prophet Mohammed! Oh Mustafah," it went, using another name for the Prophet, "because of your love, I can't sleep at night. He is lucky who goes to visit you!"
The shooting occurred as the drummers walked down Biliardo Street near the center of the camp, a neighborhood of about 1,000 families in the eastern area of Nablus in the West Bank. Faour said that when the shots rang out and Natour fell, he darted about 30 feet down an alley and pressed himself as flat as he could in a shallow doorway. Soon, an Israeli soldier appeared at the top of the alley, sited his gun with a laser on Faour's forehead and ordered him to come out. When the soldier promised not to shoot, Faour said, he complied.
Faour said that he and Natour had not run after being told to halt, and that the firing had begun "immediately" after the soldiers had shouted to stop. "If I had not gone inside the alley, they would have shot me too," he said.
Faour said that soldiers ordered him to lift his shirt to check that he was not wired with an explosive belt, and when they saw he was unarmed, they threw him against a wall, knocking him out for about five minutes. When he came to, Faour said, he asked to see Natour and was hit in the head with gun and knocked unconscious again for about five more minutes. When he awoke, he said, he was taken to another part of the city in handcuffs. It was too dark to see if Natour was bleeding, he said, but his friend clearly was still alive.
Faour said he was detained until about 4:30 a.m. After his release, he returned to the street where his friend had been shot, he said, and found him in an alley, dead.
Amjad Rifai, 31, president of the camp council, said Israeli solders refused to allow an ambulance to assist Natour. He said an ambulance arrived at about 5:30 a.m. "This is an indication of how cheap our blood is to them," he said.
Faour said that today, the 22nd day of Ramadan, was the first time they had encountered soldiers during their rounds, and it would be his last day as a drummer.
Israel Kills 2 Senior Palestinian Militants
Aircraft Fires Missile Into House in Jenin
By John Ward Anderson
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, November 27, 2002; Page A13
JERUSALEM, Nov. 27 (Wednesday) -- An Israeli aircraft fired a missile into a house in the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank late Tuesday, killing two senior Palestinian militants wanted by Israeli security services, Palestinian sources said.
Witnesses identified the two as Alaa Amhad Sabbagh, 21, head of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Jenin, and Imad Farouq Masharqi, 26, local commander of the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas. Both organizations have carried out numerous suicide bombings against Israeli civilians during the two-year-old Palestinian uprising against continued Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
No one else was killed or injured in the attack, witnesses said.
An Israeli security source said the Israeli army was not involved in the operation. Killings of senior Palestinian militants often are carried out by Israeli intelligence agencies, such as the Israeli Security Agency, which rarely comments on them. David Baker, an official in the office of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said early today he was checking reports about the Jenin attack but had no information about it.
The killings followed the Nov. 9 assassination in Jenin of Iyad Sawalha, the northern West Bank leader of Islamic Jihad, another Palestinian group that has carried out suicide bombings.
That means that in the past 21/2 weeks, Israel has killed the top commanders of the three leading Palestinian militant groups in Jenin, a small city of about 50,000 people about 45 miles north of Jerusalem that Israeli security officials say is one of the main centers for Palestinian militancy in the West Bank.
Hamas, al-Aqsa and Islamic Jihad have been responsible for carrying out almost all of the suicide bombings and most of the other Palestinian attacks on civilians, soldiers and Jewish settlers that that have occurred in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the past two years.
Tuesday's killings occurred about 11:20 p.m. when an Israeli aircraft -- described by some Palestinians as a U.S.-built F-16 warplane and by others as a U.S.-supplied AH-64 Apache helicopter -- fired a missile into a house in the southwest section of the Jenin refugee camp.
Palestinian sources said the attack was preceded by, and apparently coordinated with, an Israeli tank incursion into the eastern section of the camp that seemed designed, in retrospect, to draw attention away from what proved to be the real target.
Witnesses said the house the two men were occupying was destroyed. Immediately after the attack, Israeli tanks and armored personnel carriers also entered that section of the Jenin camp, which houses about 12,000 people, and began firing their guns, according to Mohammad Ballaf, the local correspondent for al-Ayyam, an independent Arabic daily, who lives in the camp. He said Palestinian militants returned fire in a sporadic gun battle that continued early today.