Troops enter Palestinian village, kill militant, arrest 45

Tuesday, November 13, 2001

TEL, West Bank -- In a 10-hour raid Monday on a Palestinian village, Israeli troops killed an Islamic militant and arrested 45 residents, including 16 on Israel's wanted list.

Israel also continued to hold parts of two Palestinian towns in the northern part of the West Bank. Troops moved into six towns after the Oct. 17 assassination of an Israeli Cabinet minister. Officials said they were delaying a pullback from the last two because of intelligence reports of attempts by Palestinian militants to mount attacks in Israel.

The U.S. State Department has repeatedly criticized the Israeli incursions into Palestinian areas and called on Israel to withdraw and stay out.

From house to house

In the latest Israeli incursion, soldiers moved into the West Bank village of Tel, next to the city of Nablus, around 2 a.m. Sealing off the village, they went from house to house, arresting suspected militants.

At one house, soldiers shot and killed Muhammed Reihan, 25, a senior member of the Islamic militant group Hamas. Reihan had been on Israel's wanted list since 1998 for the killing of two residents of the nearby Jewish settlement of Yitzhar.

Reihan's father, Yussef, 57, said Israeli soldiers surrounded his house and opened fire, and Muhammed went outside with a rifle, where he was killed. Then, he said, soldiers allowed the women to go to a nearby house and strip-searched the men.

The Israeli military said troops came under fire during the raid and returned fire, killing one of the gunmen.

The army said soldiers detained 45 residents of Tel. In a statement, the military said 16 were on wanted lists for a long time and belonged to the militant Hamas and Islamic Jihad, as well as the Tanzim militia, affiliated with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah group.

The statement said the detainees were turned over to Israeli security services for questioning. Also, the military said, many weapons were found during the incursion.

Israeli military analysts wrote that incursions are part of an Israeli offensive against militant groups. On Oct. 24, Israeli forces moved into another Palestinian village, Beit Rima, looking for suspects. Five Palestinian police were killed in that operation.

'We are a brave people'

Arafat said Monday that "unfortunately," Israel had decided to continue its military operations, "but they should know we are a brave people."

Arafat appealed to Arab and Muslim leaders to support the Palestinian uprising against Israel during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins later this week.

Arafat said the Palestinians were determined not to end their struggle against Israel, according to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa.

Late Monday, Palestinian security in Gaza said outlaw Palestinian groups fired mortar shells at a Jewish settlement. The statement said one of the shells hit the Palestinian side of the liaison office at a Gaza-Israel checkpoint. Those who fired the mortars would be arrested, the statement said.

Israel delayed its pullout from parts of the Palestinian towns of Jenin and Tulkarem as violence continued.

On Monday, the Israeli military said that at the beginning of the month, security forces arrested an Islamic Jihad activist, Baha Yussef Matza-rawa, 21, from a refugee camp next to Tulkarem. The military said he confessed to a series of attacks, including bombings and shootings.

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