- The Washington Times - Monday, January 27, 2003

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip A senior Hamas leader vowed yesterday to step up attacks on Israel, including more suicide bombings, in response to an Israeli airborne attack on a Hamas stronghold.
Dr. Mahmoud al-Zahar, a member of the Supreme Council of the radical Islamic movement Hamas, was visiting families of some of the 12 persons killed in an Israeli raid using helicopters and armored vehicles that began late Saturday night and ended early yesterday.
The attack on the Zeitoon district, a bustling poor area of this Mediterranean city, destroyed 14 metalwork shops where Israel says rockets and rocket-launchers were being made.
"We are going to escalate our resistance," declared Dr. Zahar as he surveyed the damage near his clinic in the district, a Hamas stronghold.
Israeli authorities, meanwhile, sealed off Gaza and the West Bank in anticipation of Palestinian efforts to disrupt Israel's national election tomorrow.
About 26,500 police officers and soldiers were deploying to guard against attacks, police spokesman Gil Kleiman told the Associated Press.
There were general warnings of attacks by Palestinians over the next 48 hours, but no more than usual, he said.
A new killing method was pioneered yesterday in another Palestinian area a "donkey bomb," in which an animal laden with two baskets containing explosives was triggered remotely. There were "miraculously" no deaths apart from the donkey, said a would-be victim.
But Dr. Zahar believes the best way to drive fear into his enemy's hearts is the well-tried concept of human self-sacrifice, or suicide bombings.
"Everybody everywhere is encouraging the 'istishaad' operation, because this is the only way we can send a clear message that the people are ready to sacrifice," he explained.
Asked about ongoing talks in Cairo, where the various Palestinian factions are discussing a very limited cease-fire offer to Israel, the doctor said any chance of such an offer "is much reduced."
"We cannot believe that Egypt will bring for us a clear sharp declaration from the U.S. and Israeli side. Everyone will now see what happened," Dr. Zahar said. "The message is clear."
The writing, literally, has been on the wall since the uprising began. Across most concrete fences and on many house walls here are scrawled slogans that urge death to the Jews and glorify Palestinians killed fighting Israelis.
In the center of Gaza City are many new buildings erected mainly with European Union and Arab money since the 1994 Oslo accords legitimized Yasser Arafat's Fatah, the main Palestinian movement.

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