Death and assissination
February 14, 2001
ISRAELIS DEAD, PALESTINIANS ASSASSINATED
REGION "ON THE BRINK"
It didn't take long for the Israelis, now Sharon-led, to start creating
the escalating provocations that will then bring about still more Palestinian
rage which will then give the Israelis the excuse they seek to pulverize the
Palestinians still harder, possibly destroying the regime they earlier created,
and possibly leading to another Palestinian "nakbah" (disaster). The Arab
"client regimes" -- individually and collectively -- remain far too weak, far
too divided, far too co-opted, and far too corrupted, to do much about it.
The seeds for all this were planted quite some time ago, many by Ariel Sharon
himself. And Shimon Peres, about to become Sharon's Foreign Minister, will
it appears lend himself to all this and help "legitimize" it -- another despicable
display of his own personal duplicity, chicanery and treachery.
7 ISRAELIS DEAD IN BUS HIT-AND-RUN
JERUSALEM -- AP, 14 February:
A Palestinian drove a bus into a group of Israelis
waiting at a bus stop, killing seven and wounding at least 10 in what police
said was a terror attack - one of the worst against Israel in years.
The driver fled in the bus and was caught after a high-speed chase by
police who fired shots at the vehicle and seriously injured the driver.
The hit-and-run occurred at a crowded bus stop south of Tel Aviv. Many
of the casualties were soldiers.
Several bodies covered by blankets lay by the roadside, as paramedics
led away dazed survivors. Shoes, jackets and personal belongings were
strewn across the road.
Police Commissioner Shlomo Ahronishki said he was "absolutely certain"
that the hit-and-run was a terror attack.
Paramedics said at least 10 people were injured, including six who were in
moderate or serious condition.
The bus, owned by the Israeli company Egged, had transported
Palestinian workers from the Gaza Strip to Israel.
Witnesses said the bus ran into the soldiers as they stood at a bus stop in
south Tel Aviv. The bus then raced southwards, towards the city of
Ashdod, but about 10 miles to the south police opened fire on the bus,
which crashed into the back of a truck and stopped, witnesses said.
Egged bus company spokesman Ron Rattner said the driver was a
Palestinian who had clearance from security services to drive Palestinian
workers into Israel.
The deaths deaths brought to nearly 400 the number of people killed in
nearly five months of Israeli-Palestinian fighting, including more than 320
U.S. SAYS MIDEAST SECURITY SITUATION 'SERIOUSLY DETERIORATING'
WASHINGTON, Feb 13 (AFP) - The United States said Tuesday the security situation
in Israel and the Palestinian territories had seriously deteroriated since
the weekend and threatened to spiral out of control.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said political assassinations carried
out by Israel and attacks on Israeli settlers by Palestinians had to stop if
peace talks were to resume.
"Our assessment is that the events of the last 48 hours represent a serious
deterioration of the security situation on the ground at a time that we all
recognize is very, very sensitive," Boucher told reporters.
"The use of Israeli helicopter gunships, Palestinian attacks against settlements
and motorists, the use of mortars by Palestinians and the targeted killings
by the Israeli defense force today are producing a new cycle of action or reaction
which can become impossible to control," he said.
Boucher referred to the latest in a series of pinpoint strikes against Palestinian
activists in which the Israeli army killed a senior officer in Yasser Arafat's
personal bodyguard, accusing Massud Ayyad of being a terrorist.
Ayyad was killed when an Israeli helicopter gunship fired a volley of rockets
on his car in the northern Gaza Strip. In Gaza and elsewhere, two Palestinians
were killed in other incidents and gunbattles raged, leaving around 36 Palestinians
"Both the Israelis and the Palestinians need to do everything they can to stop
the violence, to maintain calm, and to create the right environment for dialogue
and negotiation," Boucher said.
He spoke as envoys sent to Washington by Israeli Prime Minister-elect Ariel
Sharon met with US State Department officials and a Palestinian official urged
President George W. Bush "not to repeat the mistakes of the past" in the peace.
ARAFAT BODYGUARD KILLED AS ISRAEL TARGETS HIZBOLLAH
By Eric Silver in Jerusalem
[The Independent, UK, 14 February 2001]:
An Israeli helicopter gunship killed an officer in Yasser Arafat's
Force 17 bodyguard as he drove past a Gaza refugee camp
yesterday. Israel alleged that Massoud Ayyad led a Hizbollah
cell that fired twice on a Jewish settlement, plotted to kidnap
Israeli soldiers and smuggled arms into the Palestinian
It is the first specific allegation that the Lebanese Islamic
militia is operating in the Gaza Strip or West Bank, and Israeli
troops along the Lebanese border were placed on high alert
against possible reprisals. Major Ayyad, 54, was said to have
visited Hizbollah commanders in Lebanon last summer and
to have operated under their orders ever since.
Major Ayyad was alone in his car when it was destroyed by
rocket fire. It was the first assassination since December and
one of the first acknowledged by Israel. The outgoing Prime
Minister, Ehud Barak, said it sent "a clear message to anyone
who is planning to attack Israelis that they will not be able to
do so with impunity".
The Palestinian Justice Minister, Freih Abu Medein, denied
that Major Ayyad, whom he knew personally, was a Hizbollah
agent and accused Israel of a war crime in killing him.
Previous Israeli assassinations of Palestinians have been
widely criticised by the international community.
The USresponded to events with a gloomy prognosis. Richard
Boucher, the US state department spokesman, said events
represented "a serious deterioration of the security situation
on the ground at a time that we all recognise is very, very
He added: "The use of Israeli helicopter gunships, Palestinian
attacks against settlements and motorists, the use of mortars
by Palestinians and the targeted killings by the Israeli defence
force today are producing a new cycle of action or reaction
which can become impossible to control."
Israeli spokesmen admitted Major Ayyad had not actually
killed anyone, but claimed that his cell had made a series of
potentially lethal attacks since December. They were said to
have included two mortar shells fired at the Netzarim
settlement, one of which hit a roof, and a strike at a civilian bus
with anti-tank grenades.
The Deputy Defence Minister, Ephraim Sneh, dismissed
suggestions that the killing was too severe for a man with no
blood on his hands. "If we didn't touch him," he asked, "and
tonight another mortar shell killed Israelis, how would I look
their relatives in the eye?"
Israel arrested Nasser, Major Ayyad's son and an alleged
member of his Hizbollah cell, last month. The first mortar
attack on Netzarim followed the next day. An Israeli military
spokesman, Brigadier General Ron Kitrey, said yesterday:
"We had solid information that Massoud Ayyad continued
intensive activity to carry out additional attacks." Some Israeli
commentators have depicted the entry of Hizbollah into Gaza
as the "Lebanonisation" of the Palestinian territories. General
Kitrey refused to go that far, but noted "certain elements"
reminiscent of the war in Lebanon.
A 13-year-old Palestinian boy was also killed in Gaza
yesterday. Palestinian witnesses claimed he was shot dead
by Israeli soldiers while he and a group of friends walked on a
road near an Israeli guard post near Netzarim. The army
denied opening fire in that area.
Meanwhile, Likud and Labour were reported last night to be
close to a deal to form a national-unity government under Ariel
Sharon, who beat Mr Barak in last week's elections. Mr Sharon
has offered Labour two of the three senior portfolios: defence,
foreign affairs and finance.
ISRAELIS SHELL HOUSES IN WEST BANK, GAZA
By SAUD ABU RAMADAN
GAZA, Feb 13 (UPI) -- Israeli soldiers shelled Tuesday several Palestinian
towns and refugee camps in the West bank and Gaza Strip, wounding more than
100 people and causing damages to several houses, Palestinian sources said.
The sources said that the fiercest clashes took place all day and night in
the western part of the Khan Younis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip.
Palestinian medical sources said that at least 100 Palestinians from Khan
Younis were injured. Among the casualties, was a Palestinian ambulance
driver shot while he was trying to rescue a group of children.
Witnesses said tanks fired their cannons near the Jewish settlement of
Neveh Dekalim, west of Khan Younis. Israeli tanks had also shelled houses
Rafah and also in the West Bank towns of Hebron, Bethlehem, Bethjallah and
Nablus, wounding at least 10 people and causing severe damage to several
Yasser Sheikh Ali, a Palestinian doctor who works at Nasser Hospital in
Khan Younis, claimed Tuesday that Israel in the past few days has been using
a gas against Palestinians that causes convulsions, spasms and breathing
More than 80 people have been seen at the hospital with the symptoms after
soldiers reportedly fired shells that exploded and released clouds of white
smoke. Blood tests showed the gas included chemicals that affect the nerves
and the breathing process, Ali said.
Meanwhile, the director general of Gaza airport, Brig. Salman Abu Haleeb,
announced late Tuesday that Israel had shut down Gaza International Airport
for security reasons until a further notice.
"The closure of the airport coincided with preparations by about 8,000
Palestinians who were supposed to fly to Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage
season," he told the Voice of Palestine radio.