co-written by: Ahmad Jaradat
An Israeli SWAT team killed two Palestinians in a village near the West Bank city of Jenin on Tuesday. Israel claims the two were members of the Islamic Jihad, butWest Bank sources and local residents have said the men belonged tothe Al-Aksa Martyr Brigades. This killing was part of an ongoing Israeli operation to arrest and assassinate members of Islamic Jihad and Hamas, which has intensified this week. One of the conditions of the ceasefire agreement negotiated between Israeli and Palestinian officials in February was that Israel stops its offensive attacks against members of resistance groups. Islamic Jihad and Hamas have returned to violent resistance in recent weeks in what they say is a response to Israeli violations of that agreement. Israeli officials contend that inaction by the Palestinian Authority to rein in the groups leave them with no choice but to crackdown on the Palestinian militant groups themselves.
Despite great efforts by an Egyptian delegation to reconcile tensions between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, the two returned to fighting Monday night in northern Gaza. The PA warned Hamas and Islamic Jihad that it will retaliate against any action that would hamper Israel’s plans to withdraw from Gaza, including suicide attacks and Kassam rockets. Monday night’s fighting began when Hamas gunmen returned from firing anti-tank missiles at Israeli forces stationed outside Gaza and Palestinian security forces came to arrest them. Tensions have always existed between Hamas and the PA, but hostilities between them turned into violence last Thursday. The fighting resulted in the deaths of two Palestinian bystanders and the wounding of dozens of both Hamas gunmen and PA security forces.
Beginning last Thursday, Israeli troops enacted closures at Gaza checkpoints, preventing many Palestinians from returning to their homes in Gaza or moving about their daily activities for hours. A 14-year-old Palestinian boy was killed by Israeli fire on Monday at the Gush Katif checkpoint in Gaza while he was trying to cross the checkpoint by foot. An Israeli army spokesperson insisted that Israeli soldiers fired ‘warning shots’ when cars and people began to move through the checkpoint.
The curfew in Tulkarm was lifted today, although Israeli officials have stated that the city will remain a closed military area. The return of the city to the hands of the Palestinian security forces remains unlikely.
Posted By AIC 2005 Fellow
Posted Jul 19th, 2005