Suspected Hamas leader killed when Israeli tank shells house

Monday, July 1, 2002

JERUSALEM -- An Israeli tank shelled a house in the West Bank city of Nablus on Sunday, killing a suspected Hamas bombmaker whose work is blamed for the deaths of at least 100 Israelis in suicide bombings.

Israel also started building a towering electronic fence that will protect three sides of Jerusalem against Palestinian attacks, Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said on a visit to the area Sunday.

"I am happy that ... we have started with the project," said Ben-Eliezer, who is also overseeing other security operations: the army's occupation of seven Palestinian cities and towns in the West Bank, and the dismantling of illegal, isolated Jewish settlements that are difficult for the army to defend.

In the assault in Nablus, the army said special forces killed Mohammed Tahir, described as a local leader of the militant Islamic Hamas movement. His attacks included the June 18 bombing of a Jerusalem bus that killed 19 and the June 1, 2001, attack on a Tel Aviv disco that killed 21, the army said.

The Jerusalem fence, which will stretch 30 miles, is similar to one that will separate part of the West Bank from Israel further to the northwest. Construction on that fence began earlier this month, part of a larger plan to construct barriers that will completely separate Israel from the West Bank -- a distance of about 215 miles.

Israel will first build the fence -- at some points about 15 feet high -- at the city's northern and southern ends, which should take about three months.

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