- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 6, 2002

JERUSALEM The death of five Palestinian militants in a car struck by an Israeli missile has prompted increased scrutiny and criticism by centrist Israelis of the Jewish state's policy of targeted killings.
Yaakov Peri, the former head of Israel's domestic security agency, Shabak, said the assassinations keep Israelis and Palestinians mired in a cycle of violence and retribution and should be carried out much more sparingly.
"So far, the policy has not proven itself effective," Mr. Peri said in an Israeli television interview.
He cited Israel's apparent assassination last month of Raed Karmi, a militant from Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah group, as a hasty measure that probably did more harm to Israel's security than good.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who in a New York Times op-ed column Sunday called for new peace talks, condemned Monday's bombing and said it proves Israel wants only more violence.
The Israeli military's judge advocate general has issued strict guidelines that must be met before a targeted killing, the Haaretz daily reported.
Among the conditions: clear evidence that the target is about to plan or carry out a terror attack and failure by the Palestinian Authority to arrest the suspect. The guidelines ban killing someone as retribution for past attacks, the paper reported.
Near the town of Rafah, Palestinian security officers said Israeli helicopters picked out a Palestinian car on Monday and fired missiles at it, killing four passengers instantly. A fifth died later.
Palestinians promised to avenge the death of the five, all members of the militant Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP).
"Our front-line fighters will carry out a fierce retaliation," DFLP spokesman Talal Abu Tharifa told reporters in Gaza. The DFLP is a member of the broader Palestine Liberation Organization.
Officials said the men were all in their mid to late 20s. Israeli analysts described one of the men, 29-year-old Majid Abu Moamar, as a top militant responsible for a string of attacks on soldiers and civilians.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon denied yesterday, on the eve of a visit to the United States, that he was facing any pressure from Washington to end the policy of assassinating suspected Palestinian militants.
Mr. Sharon, who travels to Washington late today for talks with President Bush, added he would ask Israel's main ally to increase its pressure on Mr. Arafat.
Asked by reporters if his policy of extra-judicial killings threatened to damage his visit, Mr. Sharon said: "It's our right to defend ourselves; Israel asks for a green light from no one, and no one is stopping us from continuing" the practice.
Israel says the targeted killings are a form of self-defense and are only carried out against Palestinians who are either literally or loosely on their way to an attack on the Jewish state.

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