- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 12, 2001

JERUSALEM — Israel said yesterday it had asked Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to arrest the mastermind behind last week's Jerusalem suicide bombing two days before the blast killed 15 persons.
The activist from the militant Hamas organization had been on a list of seven Islamic militants handed to the Palestinians on Tuesday, with a warning that they were planning imminent terror operations, Israeli officials said.
The names were drawn from a broader wanted list of more than 100 suspects. The list was delivered earlier to the Palestinian leader by Omri Sharon, the Israeli prime minister's son and special envoy.
Israel named Abdullah Barghouti, a senior Hamas activist from the West Bank town of Ramallah, as the coordinator of the Jerusalem bombing.
The officials said Mr. Barghouti sent Izzedine Masri, 22, to carry out the attack, providing the explosives and intelligence for the operation, which injured 130 persons.
The Palestinian Authority refused to make the arrests, arguing that Israel must first take steps to detain Jewish extremists behind the murder of Palestinians, according to information handed over to Western governments by Shimon Peres, the Israeli foreign minister.
Israel said that as a result, it is left with little choice but to pursue its policy of killing specific terror suspects.
"If you want to stop the suicide bombs you must stop the people who recruit the bombers, brief them and send them out to kill," said Raanan Gissin, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. "We gave Arafat and his security officials the names. We said these people are ticking bombs which may materialize in 24 or 48 hours.
"Once again we have the most gruesome proof, and this gives all the more justification for our interception policy."
Interception is the Israeli euphemism for targeted killings, which the Palestinians prefer to call assassinations.
In recent weeks, Israel has targeted a number of Palestinian leaders, turning its sights from armed militants to their political masters in a strategy widely criticized internationally.
Palestinian leaders repeatedly warned that the targeting of Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants was making it impossible to rein in those groups and was fostering public support for revenge attacks.
The days leading up to Thursday's suicide bombing saw an intensification of violence, with Israel hunting Palestinian militants and those it suspected of planning bombings.
Orient House, the Palestinian headquarters in East Jerusalem that was seized by Israel early Friday in retaliation for the bombing, remained the focus of the Palestinian uprising yesterday.
Israeli police, some with guns drawn, scuffled with demonstrators outside the building.
The international community, including the United States, condemned Israel's seizure of the compound.
Israel claimed that its troops found arms and explosives during the takeover, and that the operation had prevented further attacks.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide