Monday, May 22, 2006

Gaza buries two women, toddler killed by air strike

The Daily Star
22 May 2006

Thousands of mourners attended funerals Sunday for four
victims of an Israeli air strike against a leading
militant in the Gaza Strip, including two women and a
4-year-old child. Many mourners demanded attacks on
Israelis to avenge the death of Naima Amen, her daughter
Hanan Amen, and her 4-year-old grandson Mohanad, as well
as local Islamic Jihad commander Mohammad Dahduh, who was
the target of Saturday's raid.

"Our response will make the ground tremble at the heart of
the Zionist entity," an Islamic Jihad leader vowed in an
address to the mourners.

The crowds who turned up for the funerals included not
only Jihad followers but also loyalists of Hamas and the
Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

The three family members were killed while travelling in a
car behind Dahduh, whose vehicle was hit by two missiles.

Israel's Defense Ministry acknowledged the innocent
victims and ordered an inquiry.

Meanwhile, Palestinian security on Sunday foiled an
attempt to kill a top commander loyal to President Mahmoud
Abbas with a roadside bomb, officials said. The discovery
of the 70-kilogram bomb came a day after Palestinian
General Intelligence chief Tareq Abu Rajab, an Abbas ally,
was seriously wounded after an explosion in an elevator at
his Gaza Strip headquarters that killed one of his
bodyguards and wounded five others.

An unverified statement from Al-Qaeda in Palestine claimed
the attack. The group also vowed to target Abbas and
Mohammad Dahlan, a former security chief.

Gaza security chief Rashid Abu Shbak, a central figure in
the power struggle, was the target of Sunday's attempted
bombing, security officials said. Security personnel found
the explosives along a route used by Shbak's motorcade.

Abbas said he would start a Fatah-Hamas dialogue on
Thursday to defuse the crisis, adding that the sides could
not allow the situation to deteriorate into a full-fledged
civil war.

"Civil war is the red line that nobody dares cross, no
matter which side they are on ... Civil war is forbidden,"
he said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in
the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where he
met with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

Fatah officials have hinted that they believe Hamas was
behind Saturday's attack and Sunday's attempted bombing,
but have stopped short of openly making the accusation.

The Abbas-Livni meeting was the highest level
Israeli-Palestinian contact since Hamas' election victory
in January.

Also Sunday, the Israeli Defense Ministry approved the
expansion of the boundaries of four Jewish settlements.
Premier Ehud Olmert has said he will draw Israel's
borders, unilaterally if necessary, by 2010. Three of the
settlements slated for expansion lie within areas Olmert
hopes to annex to Israel.

In other developments, Palestinian militants in Gaza fired
a homemade rocket at the southern Israeli town of Sderot,
hitting an empty classroom but causing no casualties, the
army said. The army responded with artillery fire toward
launching areas in the northern Gaza Strip.

In the latest sign of international support, Malaysia
pledged on Sunday to donate $16 million to the Palestinian
Authority after a Western aid freeze left the PA in a
financial crisis.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi made the pledge in
Sharm el-Sheikh. Abbas is expected to visit Kuala Lumpur
soon to discuss assistance.

In other developments, an Israeli military court laid 19
charges against Palestinian Front for the Liberation of
Palestine leader Ahmed Saadat, two months after he was
seized from a West Bank jail. Charges against him include
involvement in a militant group and deadly attacks,
weapons dealing, armed robbery and incitement to violence
from 1995-2004.

Khaleda Jarrar, a PFLP spokeswoman in the West Bank, said
Saadat "does not recognize the legitimacy of the court,
nor the charges." - Agencies

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