- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 10, 2002

JERUSALEM The Israeli army yesterday shot and killed one of Israel's most wanted men from the militant group Islamic Jihad in a gunfight in the West Bank, security officials said.
The group retaliated with a roadside bombing near a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip, killing an Israeli soldier.
Iyad Sawalha, a man Israel has accused of orchestrating attacks that left 31 Israelis dead, was killed after trading fire with troops from his hide-out in the West Bank town of Jenin, Israeli officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Sawalha, a top Islamic Jihad leader in the northern West Bank, threw grenades and fired at troops after holing up behind a moveable wall in the hide-out leading to an underground cave, officials said. Two soldiers were slightly injured, the army said.
In retaliation, Islamic Jihad said, its militants set off a bomb on a road later in the day near a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip, killing an Israeli soldier. In a statement sent to the Associated Press in Lebanon, the group said the attack was its first retaliation for the death of Sawalha.
The army said the 23-year-old soldier was killed while on a foot patrol near the Netzarim settlement when the roadside bomb detonated. The explosion also wounded a second officer.
In the Jenin operation, Israeli forces conducting a search of the city's marketplace identified the house as Sawalha's hide-out after finding papers on the doorstep that appeared to belong to his wife, Mariam, the officials said.
Next-door neighbor Soha Ekmel said she heard Sawalha's wife scream for him to come out, telling him that the Israeli forces had threatened to kill her if he did not. The army declined to comment on that report.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat criticized the operation, which fell during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
"It is a very big crime that was committed, through military aggression against our people and against our [religious] holidays," Mr. Arafat told reporters at his Ramallah headquarters.
Israel reoccupied Jenin almost three weeks ago in a bid to crack down on militant groups after an Oct. 25 suicide bombing claimed by Islamic Jihad.
The army says Sawalha was responsible for two suicide attacks a bus bombing in June that killed 17 Israelis, and another last month when two teenagers drove a car laden with explosives into a bus in northern Israel, leaving 14 Israelis dead.
The operation came as Palestinian groups faced delay in a weekend meeting between leaders of the militant Hamas group and Mr. Arafat's Fatah movement in Cairo to discuss an end to suicide attacks in Israel, a Fatah official said.
Samir Masharawi, the former Palestinian security chief who is now a top Fatah official in the Gaza Strip, said the meeting was put off because Israeli forces had prevented him from leaving Gaza in order to take part. The army declined immediate comment.
A Fatah delegation plans to demand that Hamas restrict its attacks to Jewish settlers and Israeli soldiers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, instead of all Israelis, a senior Fatah official said Friday.
Mr. Arafat has condemned suicide attacks against civilians inside Israel, while Hamas argues Palestinians have no other effective means against the better-armed Israeli army.
Also yesterday, troops seriously wounded two Palestinians when they opened fire on worshipers leaving a mosque in the Khan Younis refugee camp in Gaza, Palestinian witnesses said. The army said it knew of no shooting in that area and had received no complaint of any incident.


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