- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 27, 2009

NABLUS, West Bank | Israeli troops blasted their way into the homes of three wanted Palestinians on Saturday, killing each in a hail of bullets and straining an uneasy security arrangement with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Israel’s military said the three, affiliated with a violent offshoot of Mr. Abbas’ Fatah movement, were targeted for killing an Israeli settler in a roadside ambush earlier in the week and had turned down a chance to surrender.

In the Gaza Strip, three young men approaching Israel’s southern border were killed by shots from an Israeli helicopter gunship. Saturday’s deaths made it one of the deadliest days in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since Israel waged war on Gaza’s Islamic militant Hamas rulers a year ago.

The violent Nablus raids, after months of relative quiet, embarrassed Western-backed Mr. Abbas, whose security forces have been coordinating some of their moves with their Israeli counterparts and share a common foe, Hamas.

At the funeral for the slain men, Mr. Abbas’ security policy was denounced by thousands of mourners, who chanted: “Why the coordination while we are under the bullets of the army?”

Mr. Abbas’ prime minister, Salam Fayyad, rushed to Nablus in an apparent attempt at damage control, paying his respects at a large communal wake and condemning Israel. “This attack was a clear assassination, and I believe it is targeting our security and stability,” Mr. Fayyad told the Associated Press.

Israel did not let Mr. Abbas know of the raid in advance, said Maj. Peter Lerner, an Israeli army spokesman.

Saturday’s killings put to the test an often-strained relationship between Israel’s military and Mr. Abbas’ security.

Since the violent takeover of Gaza by Hamas in 2007, Mr. Abbas has gradually strengthened his control in West Bank towns to keep the Islamists there in check.

The target of Saturday’s predawn raids were three longtime members of Fatah’s violent offshoot, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. The army said the three - Anan Subeh, 36; Ghassan Abu Sharah, 40; and Raed Suragji, 40 - were involved in Thursday’s deadly roadside shooting of an Israeli settler, and that Israeli forces entered Nablus to try to arrest them.

Dozens of Israeli soldiers, some wearing black masks, poured into Nablus’ casbah, or old city, at about 2 a.m. They were backed by sniffer dogs and dozens of jeeps, bulldozers and other military vehicles.

The forces surrounded the homes of the three. Maj. Lerner said all three turned down a chance to surrender. However, relatives of Abu Sharah and Suragji said they were killed without warning. Maj. Lerner confirmed that none of the wanted men returned fire, including Subeh, who had two pistols and two assault rifles on him.

Subeh had recently been accepted in Israel’s amnesty program for Fatah gunmen, according to Nablus’ deputy governor, Anan Attireh. Subeh’s family said he had also joined the Preventive Security Service, a branch of the Palestinian security forces.

Suragji was released from an Israeli prison in January after a seven-year term for involvement in shooting attacks. Abu Sharah was also held by Israel in the past, the military said.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide