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Beat death in Gaza (NY DAILYNEWS) By MAKI BECKER 12/02/02)Source: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/wn_report/story/40077p-37860c.html NEW YORK DAILY NEWS NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Quick-thinking Palestinian terrorists escaped certain death yesterday when they leaped from their car moments before two Israeli helicopters pounded the vehicle with missiles.

The Islamic Jihad militants - including Mukaled Hamid, one of the group´s field commanders - spotted the two U.S.-made Apaches overhead and jumped just before the missiles reduced their car to a twisted heap of smoldering metal.

"Suddenly, I saw a Mercedes driving fast down the road and it was hit by flames coming from the sky," said Amina Daalasa, 55, who witnessed the failed assassination attempt on a road just outside Gaza City.

One of the Islamic Jihad members was lightly wounded, and three bystanders also were hurt in the helicopter attack.

Attack followed incursion

Israeli officials did not comment on the operation but the military has participated in dozens of similar targeted attacks - a practice that Palestinians and some human rights organizations condemn.

Just hours earlier, Israeli military forces conducted an overnight incursion into a Gaza Strip town about 5 miles from the scene of the air strike.

Two Palestinians, including a 70-year-old man, died during the three- hour siege in the Gaza town of Beit Lahiya. Thirty tanks rolled into the town, and troops fought running gun battles with Palestinian militants.

The Israeli Army knocked out the town´s power transformer and blew up the homes of three militants, including the residence of an Islamic Jihad suicide bomber who killed 20 Israelis in a March 1996 attack in Tel Aviv. The other two were the homes of members of Hamas.

The body of the 70-year-old man was found in the rubble of one of the homes.

His neighbors speculated he had not heard the Israelis´ call over loudspeakers to evacuate before bulldozers razed the buildings.

"We do everything to make sure that the houses are empty of people and we take several steps within the building to make sure there is no one inside," said Israeli Army spokesman Capt. Jacob Dallal.

Israel has made it a practice to destroy the family homes of suicide bombers and other terrorists in an effort to deter future attackers.

A 32-year-old Palestinian man also was shot dead during the incursion. With News Wire Services (© 2002 Daily News, L.P. 12/02/02)

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