- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 20, 2002

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip A Palestinian blew himself up at an Israeli military checkpoint yesterday, ending a period of relative quiet in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli troops also withdrew from the West Bank town of Jenin in line with a promise to the United States to scale down a three-week-old military offensive.
But elsewhere, seven Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, including two gunmen trying to infiltrate a Jewish settlement in Gaza.
In the West Bank city of Ramallah, doctors said two boys, ages 9 and 14 were shot by troops enforcing a curfew in the town.
Palestinian authorities got a rare bit of good news when the World Bank announced it will grant $340 million to Palestinian-controlled territories, even if the violence and suicide terrorist attacks continue.
The aid "is not conditional on anything," said World Bank President James Wolfensohn in Washington, adding he would press for another $460 million in aid from individual donors. "We regard this as an absolutely humanitarian exercise that is right."
At funerals in the Gaza Strip, supporters of Islamic militant groups and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement threatened to carry out new attacks in Israel to avenge at least 200 Palestinians killed in the Israeli offensive.
Leading a funeral procession in Gaza City, a masked Fatah activist told mourners that he had a message for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon:
"You have opened the gates of hell. … Murder for murder, and destruction for destruction."
The militant Islamic Jihad group claimed responsibility for yesterday's suicide bombing at an army checkpoint near the Kissufim crossing between Israel and Gaza, the first such attack in the strip in five months. The assailant was killed and two soldiers were slightly wounded.
In the past 19 months of fighting, scores of suicide bombings have been initiated from the West Bank, but none from the Gaza Strip, which is separated from Israel by a high fence.
However, the command center of the largest Islamic group Hamas is in Gaza, which has not been targeted in the Israeli offensive.
Hamas leaders have said the group would carry out new attacks soon, and sources in the group said Hamas bomb makers were now using much deadlier weapons-grade explosives, rather than fertilizer bombs.
In the West Bank, Israeli troops pulled out of Jenin and the adjacent refugee camp, but deployed at the outskirts in a tight blockade, barring residents from leaving.
In the West Bank town of Ramallah, troops enforcing a curfew fatally shot a 14-year-old Palestinian boy yesterday morning as he walked from his house to the adjacent bakery where he worked, Palestinian doctors said. In the neighboring village of Beitunia, troops fatally shot a 9-year-old boy as he played in his back yard on Thursday evening.
In the Gaza Strip, Israeli troops moved briefly into Palestinian-controlled territory near the border with Egypt, scene of frequent clashes and incursions. Palestinians opened fire on Israeli troops, who pounded the area with machine-gun fire, witnesses said.
In the West Bank town of Bethlehem, security forces arrested Khalid Tafish, described as a Hamas leader the second catch of a high-ranking Hamas official in two days. Another unidentified Hamas fighter was arrested in the same operation.

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