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Archive for Friday, February 1, 2002

2 Hamas militants killed after bomb, truck attack

February 1, 2002

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— Two Islamic militants detonated a roadside bomb and then opened fire on a truck carrying Thai farm hands to Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip on Thursday. No one in the truck was hurt, and Israeli soldiers shot the attackers dead.

Later, Israeli police and soldiers entered two Palestinian security buildings in a suburb of Jerusalem and closed them down, a move to limit Palestinian operations in the disputed city.

In the West Bank, a Palestinian teen-ager was killed, apparently in a clash with Israeli forces.

Also, a Palestinian official responded angrily to a statement by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, expressing regret that he did not kill Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Beirut in 1982.

The militant Hamas took responsibility for the attack in Gaza, which damaged the truck. Israeli soldiers guarding the truck fired at the gunmen and killed them.

A few hours later, about 3,000 Palestinians took part in a funeral procession for the two, marching through Gaza City, where they lived. Gunmen fired in the air as people surrounded the bodies, draped in green Hamas flags.

Defying orders by Arafat to halt attacks against Israelis, Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi told the crowd that "jihad (holy war) ... is the only effective method in face of Zionist arrogance."

Meanwhile, Hamas spiritual leader Ahmed Yassin left his Gaza home, though he is under house arrest. Palestinian officials said the house arrest order is still in effect, but Yassin was allowed to leave to take part in a pro-Arafat rally.

Elsewhere, Israeli soldiers and police closed down two buildings with offices of the official Palestinian Authority's Preventive Security arm in Azariya, a Palestinian suburb of Jerusalem.

Azariya is in an area under joint Israeli-Palestinian control. An Israeli military statement said that according to interim peace accords, the Palestinians are not allowed to operate security forces in those areas.

Israel periodically moves against Palestinian offices and operations in Jerusalem, citing the interim accords. Palestinians charge that Israel is trying to limit Palestinian influence in the city while increasing the Jewish presence.

The Palestinians claim the Arab section of Jerusalem as their capital. Israel captured the Arab section in the 1967 Mideast war and claims the whole city as its capital.

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