- The Washington Times - Monday, October 8, 2001

From combined dispatches
JERUSALEM Israel reiterated the country's offer to provide "all help possible" to the United States, following the onset of U.S.-led strikes against Afghanistan yesterday.
"The United States have launched their offensive tonight against the bases of Osama bin Laden's terrorist organization in Afghanistan following the horrible terror attacks on Sept. 11 in the United States," said a statement issued by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office.
"Over the past three days, Secretary of State [Colin L.] Powell has kept Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon informed of the preparations for the U.S. attack and of the measures which have been taken to that effect," the statement added.
"Israel helps and will provide its help but is not taking part in the war," the statement also said.
The statement said all necessary measures had been taken to ensure the Israeli population's security, without elaborating on these measures.
Over the past several weeks, Israelis have rushed to gas mask distribution centers, from fear of a replay of the 1991 Gulf war, when Iraq launched missiles against Israel in revenge for the U.S.-led strikes that followed Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait.
Some 40 conventional warhead Scud missiles hit Israeli territory, killing two persons, and the population braced for chemical attacks.
The U.S.-led attack on Afghanistan came hours after a Palestinian bomber blew himself up and killed one Israeli, marking the first suicide attack in nearly a month and dealing another blow to a tattered truce.
Also, a Palestinian was shot dead and three were injured in the volatile West Bank city of Hebron. Palestinians blamed Israeli troops, while Israel said it was part of an internal Palestinian dispute. Israeli troops entered two Palestinian neighborhoods in the city on Friday and have remained there for the past three days.
Neither Israel nor the Palestinians want to be seen as abandoning the cease-fire, but the violence has not abated since the truce was declared Sept. 26. More than 30 Palestinians and seven Israelis have been killed since the truce.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Cabinet issued a sharply worded statement Friday telling Palestinian militants that attacks on Israel were undermining the truce and worked against Palestinian interests.
Also, Palestinian security forces said they have detained at least six suspected militants in recent days. Those taken into custody include two activists from the Islamic Jihad movement, detained Sunday in the wake of the suicide bombing.
However, Israel has named more than 100 suspects it wants arrested, and the actions by the security forces have not halted the attacks.
In northern Israel, a Palestinian bomber approached the Israeli agricultural settlement of Kibbutz Shluhot on foot. When an Israeli in a car drove up to confront the Palestinian, he detonated his bomb, killing them both, said Israeli police spokesman Gil Kleiman.
Palestinian security sources said the bomber was a 17-year-old high school student, Ahmed Daraghmeh, and a member of Islamic Jihad.
Islamic Jihad did not comment on the attack. The Islamic Jihad and the Hamas movement have carried out more than 20 suicide bombings during the past year of Mideast fighting.
Meanwhile, Israeli tanks and troops maintained their hold on two Palestinian neighborhoods in Hebron for the third day in a row yesterday, making it the longest Israeli presence in Palestinian territory since Israel started handing over parts of the West Bank and Gaza in 1994 under interim peace accords.

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