JERUSALEM (Mar. 8)
The sound of explosions rolled once again through the narrow alleys of the Nablus casbah this week, as Israeli security forces demolished the homes of two local youths implicated in the Feb. 24 murder of Israel Defense Force reservist Binyamin Meisner.
Ibrahim Tartuk, 18, and Samir Nanash, 22, have been suspected by the General Security Service since a few days after the attack, but the difficulty of tracing them in the labyrinthine pathways of the casbah prevented an earlier arrest.
Moreover, the group to which the suspects belong, responsible for planning the attack, is a local organization with no ties to established terrorist groups. This substantially increased the problems in finding them.
Tartuk was apprehended last Friday upon his return to his abode in the Yasmina neighborhood of the casbah.
Apparently, the murder involved a pre-meditated scheme in which four other youths, who also have been arrested, began throwing stones at soldiers to provoke them into pursuit. This created a diversion, enabling Tartuk to drop a large, concrete building block on Meisner without being observed.
All six suspects have participated in past riots in Nablus, but none has been connected to actual previous terrorist acts.
Tartuk and Nanash reportedly have admitted to the killing of Meisner.
In other developments in the territories, an autopsy performed on the body of a Palestinian prisoner who died in a Gaza prison on Monday revealed no signs of foul play.
DIED BEFORE INTERROGATION
Israel Television reported Tuesday that the prisoner, Yussuf Alayan, expired prior to interrogation, contrary to initial allegations that he died in an interrogation cell.
Alayan, 32, had complained of nausea and an ulcer condition upon his arrival at the prison on Saturday night.
A medic administered medication and scheduled a visit with a doctor for the next day; however, Alayan died that same night.
Initially, reports of his death gave rise to speculation of another apparent instance of an Arab prisoner dying while under interrogation.
But police sources state that the autopsy puts all such talk to rest, clearly showing Alayan’s death to be of “natural causes” and not due to physical violence.
Despite the autopsy’s “conclusive” findings, police say they have not yet officially completed their investigation.
As a result of Alayan’s death, the army imposed a curfew Tuesday on the Shabura neighborhood in Rafah to prevent possible unrest.
In other parts of Gaza, violent clashes occurred between demonstrators and the army.
The army said four residents were wounded in the Jabalya refugee camp, contradicting Arab sources who claimed 30 injuries.
Meanwhile, at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency clinic in Gaza, troops were forced to rescue a squad of soldiers trapped and attacked on the grounds of the clinic by stone-throwers whom they had chased there.