Israelis kill militants in second day of bloodshed

Published: Sunday April 22, 2007

Israeli troops on Sunday killed two militants and a teenager in the occupied West Bank, bringing to nine the death toll from the bloodiest two days of Israeli-Palestinian violence in months.

Karim Zahran, 17, was shot dead while throwing stones at Israeli troops near the city of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian security sources and medics said.

The Israeli army said troops fired at a man in a crowd who was about to throw a Molotov cocktail at soldiers.

In the northern West Bank town of Nablus earlier, the army shot dead two gunmen from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militant group loosely affiliated with president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah faction, Palestinian security sources and the army said.

The men were killed after troops surrounded a house in which they were holed up in Nablus, in the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinian sources identified the dead as Fadel Nur, 23, and Amin Lubadi, 25, and said they were killed during heavy exchanges of fire with the Israeli troops.

An army spokeswoman said the two died during exchanges of fire with troops who came to arrest the pair. A militant from the radical Islamic Jihad group was arrested during the operation, she said.

The Al-Aqsa Brigades vowed to retaliate for the killings.

"We do not cooperate with the Israelis and we use only the language of arms, as it's the only one they understand," Al-Aqsa official Nasser Al-Kharaz told AFP.

He also called on Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas "to cease all contacts and meetings with the Israelis as these do not bring anything and give the world the illusion that Israel speaks of peace."

Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert have agreed to hold regular meetings to try to jump-start dormant peace talks, with the next encounter due to take place before the end of the month.

The Islamist Hamas movement, the senior partner in the government coalition with Fatah and independents, also called for Abbas to break off contacts with the Israelis and "get behind the choice of the people and the resistance."

"We call on the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades (the armed wing of Hamas) and all other Palestinian resistance factions to unite and use all means to respond to the massacres of the occupation," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said in a statement.

Sunday's deaths followed the bloodiest day in Israeli-Palestinian violence since a ceasefire between the army and militants took effect in the Gaza Strip on November 26.

Six Palestinians, including a 17-year-old bystander, were killed by Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank and Gaza on Saturday.

The dead included an Islamic Jihad militant in Gaza who was killed when an Israeli aircraft fired a missile at his car in Jabaliya in northern Gaza, minutes after two Israelis were wounded by a rocket fired at the Jewish state from the territory.

The other deaths all occured in the West Bank where a 17-year-old girl, three Al-Aqsa militants, and a Palestinian policeman were killed during raids against militants in the northern West Bank town of Jenin.

Palestinian prime minister Ismail Haniya of the Islamist Hamas movement condemned the Israeli attacks and called for Arab leaders to intervene.

"We call on the Arab leaders to urgently intervene in order to break the Israeli siege on the Palestinian government and answer the Israeli aggressions against our people," Haniya was quoted by his office as saying in a statement.

Sunday's deaths brought to 5,669 the number of people killed since the start of the Palestinian uprising in September 2000, the vast majority of them Palestinians, according to an AFP count.