- The Washington Times - Monday, February 18, 2002

JERUSALEM Israeli police foiled an attack on an army base yesterday as the country's leaders considered their response to a new level of Palestinian attacks: a suicide bombing in a Jewish settlement, the destruction of an Israeli tank and rocket fire at Israel.
After sunset, police stopped a car at the entrance to an army training base near the northern Israeli town of Hadera, six miles from the West Bank. Police said one of its two occupants started shooting, and they returned fire.
One of the assailants was shot and killed, said police Cmdr. Yaakov Raz. The other tried to escape in the car, but "saw he could not get through a roadblock and set off a bomb he was carrying, killing himself," he said. Six other persons were wounded, including three policemen, rescue officials said.
West Bank leaders of the Al Aqsa Brigades, a militia affiliated with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, said the group planned the attack. They said Mohammed Hmuda, 18, planned to detonate explosives on the base, while 22-year-old Abdeljaber Khaled was to spray the camp with bullets from the assault rifle he carried.
Earlier yesterday, Israeli helicopters fired missiles that hit three buildings in the West Bank city of Nablus a police command post, a government complex and an apartment meant as an office for Mr. Arafat. The Israeli military said the air strike was a response to recent Palestinian attacks.
Reacting to the attack on the army base, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's spokesman Raanan Gissin said that Israel would not escalate the violence with Palestinians, but that "the terrorists will find out that we have more ways to reach them than what we have conducted up to now."
Nablus Gov. Mahmoud Aloul called the Israeli air strike a "dangerous escalation." The Palestinian news agency Wafa quoted him as saying, "The aggression against Palestinian Authority compounds, and the Palestinian people continues."
Mr. Sharon convened his security Cabinet to consider further steps. No decisions were announced, but Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer told the Cabinet that Israel would "increase the military pressure on the perpetrators of terrorism," according to a statement from his office.
Six Israelis have died in three Palestinian attacks in recent days.


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