Home  > Israel-News Today  > Week in Review
Palestinians fire five mortar shells at Gaza settlements (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Amos Harel, Arnon Regular and Gideon Alon, Haaretz Correspondents, Haaretz Service and Agencies 02/01/05 19:59 (GMT+2) Source: http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/spages/534451.html HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Palestinians continued firing mortar shells at Gaza Strip settlements Tuesday. Two people suffered from shock after five shells hit settlements and damaged several vehicles.

The mortar fire came on top of attacks Monday, in which militants fired seven mortar shells at Gaza settlements, causing heavy damage to a building. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack, which it said was in retaliation for the death of a 10-year-old school girl in the Rafah refugee camp earlier on Monday.

The Israel Defense Forces said the girl was likely shot by Palestinian pilgrims´ shooting into the air upon returning from the Hajj, but Hamas said she was shot dead by IDF fire.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the Palestinian police "will exert every possible effort to stop such firing."

But Hamas threatened further retaliation "if the crimes continue." The military took that to mean the militant group was trying to set a pattern of retaliation for perceived Israeli acts of violence, within the framework of a cease-fire, security officials said.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told Palestinian Authority adviser Mohammed Dahlan during a meeting Monday night that such an understanding was unacceptable.

Monday´s mortar fire in Gaza also compelled Mofaz to demand that the PA take more aggressive action against the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza.

Palestinian militant groups warned in a statement they would resume attacks against Israel in light of what they consider to be an ongoing policy of incursions by the Israel Defense Forces into Palestinian territory, Israel Radio reported Tuesday.

The statement was issued jointly by eight groups, including the Al- Aqsa Martyrs´ Brigades, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

IDF Intelligence: Hamas part of ´axis of evil´

The quiet in Gaza and the West Bank largely depends on the will of Hamas leaders, who form part of a regional "axis of evil" that opposes regional calm, the head of Military Intelligence said Tuesday.

"Everything can cause a break in the calm," Major General Aharon Ze´evi told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Ze´evi said Abbas had agreed to let Hamas leaders hold onto their weapons during cease-fire talks, adding that Hamas and Hezbollah are working together to dash any such halt of attacks.

"The axis of evil - which includes the Hezbollah, Hamas and Al-Qaida organizations supported by Iran - adamantly opposes calm, and Hamas and Hezbollah are working together to destroy the cease-fire," he said.

Ze´evi added that Palestinians were talking only about establishing "calm," rather than a more stable cease-fire or hudna (temporary truce).

Israel reopens Rafah crossing

Thousands of Palestinians passed through the Rafah crossing on Tuesday, which Israel reopened in the morning after Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz agreed to a Palestinian Authority request to reopen the border crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

The Rafah crossing is the main gateway in and out of the Gaza Strip for Palestinian travelers. It was closed since December 12, the day of a Palestinian attack that killed several Israeli soldiers at a nearby outpost.

In his meeting with Mofaz, Dahlan - considered one of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas´ closest advisers - demanded the immediate opening of the Erez, Karni and Rafah crossings surrounding Gaza.

Mofaz agreed to reopen the Erez and Rafah crossings, but Israel is not prepared to reopen the Karni crossing, where a terror attack killed six Israelis last month, until it receives a detailed security plan from the Palestinians. Israeli and Palestinian officers met Monday to discuss security at Karni.

Mofaz also told Dahlan during the meeting that there would be no transfer of West Bank cities to the Palestinian Authority without a total cessation of mortar fire into the settlements of Gush Katif - a position to which Palestinians objected Tuesday.

The meeting focused on the transfer of five West Bank cities - Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jericho, Tul Karm and Qalqilyah - to the Palestinians as early as this week. Jericho is likely to be the first city to be transferred.

Palestinians objected to the new Israeli position on the West Bank handover.

"We will not tell them to stop if they are withdrawing from Ramallah, but we want them to implement the previous understandings, the withdrawal from five cities," a senior Palestinian official said Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity. (© Copyright 2004 Haaretz. 02/01/05)


Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY