Israel braces for suicide terror campaign : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Israel braces for suicide terror campaign

By ROSS DUNN JERUSALEM Saturday 28 October 2000

Israel went on high alert yesterday in expectation that Islamic militants might carry out more suicide bombings following a failed attack on an army post in the Gaza Strip.

Following a month of violent clashes between Israeli security forces and rioting Palestinians, extreme Muslim groups say they are preparing for more such operations against the Jewish state.

An aide to the spiritual leader of Hamas, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, said that all the military wings of his movement were now active and that all attacks against Israelis were justified.

Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, is one of two militant Palestinian groups that has killed scores of Israelis in suicide bombings and other terrorist operations during the past five years.

The other is the Islamic Jihad, which claimed responsibility for the attack on Thursday in which a 24-year-old Palestinian riding a bicycle packed with explosives blew himself up outside an army post, slightly injuring a soldier.

A large crowd of mourners was expected to attend his funeral in the Gaza Strip yesterday, possibly inciting others to sacrifice themselves in Islamic Jihad's struggle to conquer Israel and place the area under Muslim rule.

The Israeli army has criticised Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for freeing dozens of Islamic militants in recent weeks, saying this had effectively given a green light to terrorism. Fearing more suicide bombings, Israeli security forces have been deployed in large numbers around Jerusalem to guard public areas.

Hundreds of Israeli police were controlling the entrances to Jerusalem's walled Old City, as Muslims attended Friday noon prayers.

Hamas leaders had called on their supporters to clash with security forces after worshipping at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, a site holy to both Muslims and Jews.

Despite a decrease in violence this week, tensions remained high. Six Israeli policemen have been suspended after being accused of beating one of the Palestinians suspected of participating in the lynching of two Israeli soldiers two weeks ago.

Police have launched an internal investigation to decide whether there is enough evidence to place the policemen on trial.

Despite the Israeli public's anger over the lynchings and recent violence, Prime Minster Ehud Barak has left the door open to restart negotiations with the Palestinians.

His Labor Party has rejected forming a national unity government with any party opposed to making peace. "Every government headed by me will not stop in any situation or any condition its aspiration to find a way to make peace and to reach an agreement and to put an end to his conflict," Mr Barak said.

His comments came during difficult negotiations with the leader of the right-wing opposition Likud Party, Ariel Sharon, over the need to forge a coalition to deal with the crisis in the territories. Mr Sharon is demanding veto power over cabinet security decisions and a requirement for elections to be called with six months of any violation of an agreed set of rules for governing the country.

But Mr Barak said he could not accept such conditions, even though his minority government is at risk of being toppled when parliament resumes next week.

Mr Barak is preparing for a possible trip to Washington soon to meet US President Bill Clinton. The two leaders are expected to discuss a possible summit with Mr Arafat after the American presidential elections in November.

Mr Arafat is reportedly ready to have his own meeting with Mr Clinton to discuss ways to re-open negotiations with Israel.

-- Martin Thompson (, October 27, 2000

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