Militants threaten new attacks, Palestinians poised for West Bank transfer (AFP-FRANCE PRESSE) GAZA CITY 01/31/05 5:11 PM ET)
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GAZA CITY (AFP) - Palestinian militants in Gaza threatened to resume
anti-Israeli attacks, casting a shadow over Israeli-Palestinian talks
on a planned transfer of security control in the West Bank.
Citing a list of Israeli military "aggressions", eight militant
factions accused Israel of violating a cooling-down period negotiated
by Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas in which militants agreed to
"The enemy has challenged our quiet period by its continued
aggression. We cannot allow the Zionist enemy to continue its daily
violations without an answer," the factions said in a statement.
It was issued just hours after a 10-year-old Palestinian girl was
shot dead in southern Gaza.
Despite the 11-day period of calm observed by the factions, Israel
has killed as many as 22 Palestinians, the factions charged, also
accusing the army of carrying out 33 incursions and making 196
Militant groups such as Hamas have said they will declare a formal
ceasefire only if Israel ends its military operations in the Gaza
Strip and releases Palestinian prisoners.
Monday´s violence, which saw Hamas fire a salvo of seven mortar
shells at Jewish settlements in Gaza in response to the girl´s
killing, came amid burgeoning hopes for a breakthrough in the four-
The flareup also cast a shadow over talks between former Palestinian
security minister Mohammed Dahlan and Israeli Defence Minister Shaul
Mofaz who were meeting late Monday over the planned transfer of
security control in several West Bank towns.
At the outset of the meeting, Mofaz demanded that Dahlan ensure the
Palestinian Authority take immediate action to stop the ongoing
firing of mortar shells and Qassam rockets, army radio reported.
The Palestinians are expected to deploy their forces throughout at
least four West Bank cities on Tuesday, a Palestinian official said
earlier, but the move was dependent on progress in the Dahlan-Mofaz
The two were also expected to discuss Palestinian demands for the
release of Palestinian prisoners.
Israel has already handed over security control in most of the Gaza
Strip where thousands of Palestinian troops have been deployed with
orders to stop anti-Israeli attacks.
Speaking at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in
Moscow, Abbas said there was "an historic chance to bring about peace
in the region".
Abbas´s comments echoed remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon who said last week that he saw an "historic" opportunity to
make progress in the peace process.
While Abbas looked to support from Moscow, Sharon dispatched three of
his top advisors to Washington for talks with new US Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice, who is due in Israel on February 6.
However, the optimism generated by the recent calm was clouded over
by the killing of 10-year-old girl Nuran Dean in a UN-run school in
the southern Gaza town of Rafah.
Medical sources said the girl died instantly after being shot in the
head by Israeli troops from an observation post on the border with
The Israeli army said an initial investigation suggested troops had
opened fire on only two occasions during the day, both of them in
areas not near where the girl was shot.
A spokeswoman added that the army had asked for a joint investigation
with the Palestinians.
An Israeli military source earlier said it was possible the girl had
been killed by celebratory gunfire from Palestinians marking their
return from the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.
Her death raised to 4,725 the number of people killed since the start
of the Palestinian intifada, or uprising, in September 2000,
including 3,670 Palestinians and 981 Israelis.
And in the southern West Bank, an Israeli soldier was lightly wounded
after Palestinians threw an explosive device at an army outpost near
Bethlehem, witnesses and the Israeli army said. (Copyright © 2005
Agence France Presse. 01/31/05)
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