- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 1, 2002

RAMALLAH, West Bank An Israeli helicopter fired missiles at a car yesterday, killing five Palestinians including a militant and two children, witnesses said. Elsewhere in the West Bank, a Palestinian gunman infiltrated a Jewish settlement, wounding two persons before he was killed.
Also yesterday, Israeli soldiers arrested the top West Bank political leader of the Islamic militant group Hamas during a sweep in the city of Ramallah.
An Israeli helicopter fired three missiles at a car in the northern West Bank town of Toubas, apparently targeting two militants from the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, affiliated with Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement.
One of the militants, Rafat Daraghmeh, was killed, as were three teens in the car and a 10-year-old boy, and a 6-year-old girl walking nearby, witnesses and hospital officials said. The other militant, 27-year-old Jihad Sauafta, and six bystanders were wounded.
Palestinian Cabinet minister Saeb Erekat called the strike a "brutal act of murder."
The Israeli army issued a statement expressing "sorrow over the loss of civilian life." It said its helicopters "hit a car carrying several wanted men responsible" for planning attacks in Israel that were to have taken place in the next few days.
In Ramallah, the Hamas leader, Hasan Yousef, was captured at a house in the center of town and herded blindfolded into an Israeli military vehicle along with another unidentified man.
Mr. Yousef heads the political wing of Hamas in the West Bank, and the Israeli army said it had been hunting for him for some time. Military sources said a substantial amount of money was found in Mr. Yousef's hide-out.
In a wider sweep in Ramallah, Israeli soldiers rounded up an unknown number of men, leading them away in blindfolds.
In the Gaza Strip late yesterday, some 5,000 people took to the streets to protest Mr. Yousef's arrest and the helicopter strike at Toubas.
Details were sketchy from yesterday's gun assault on the Har Bracha Jewish settlement, near the West Bank city of Nablus.
The gunman opened fire outside a religious school just before the end of Sabbath, a Har Bracha settler said. Israel Radio said the attacker got through the settlement's fence with a wire cutter.
A 23-year-old woman, who was believed to be pregnant, was seriously wounded with shots to the chest and a man was moderately wounded, the Israeli ambulance service and a military official said.
The radio said the gunman was wounded by a visiting soldier and then shot to death by the settlement's civilian emergency squad.
The militant Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for the attack. It was the first Palestinian attack to bring Israeli civilian casualties since an Aug. 4 suicide bombing killed nine.
In other violence, the Al Aqsa Brigade executed Mohammed Abu Oun, 29, in the center of the northern West Bank village of Jabaa, after accusing him of helping the Israelis kill a local militant leader in early August, according to local residents.
Also yesterday, Interior Minister Abdel Razak Yehiyeh, who heads the Palestinian security forces, met U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield as part of talks aimed at reducing tensions.


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