JERUSALEM (Dec. 7)
Three Israeli army reservists patrolling the Gaza Strip were killed Monday in an ambush by terrorists of the Islamic fundamentalist Hamas movement.
Gunmen in a passing car sprayed the soldiers’ jeep with automatic fire before dawn Monday in an attack coinciding with the fifth anniversary of the Palestinian uprising.
The attackers fled shouting “Allahu Akhbar” (God is qreat), according to accounts given Israel Radio by Gaza Strip workers who witnessed the assault.
The dead were Lt. Haggai Amit, 24, of Kibbutz Revivim; Cpl. Udi Zamir, 23, of Rehovot; and Shalom Zabari of Gedera, whose age was not given.
The Israeli army has imposed a military closure of indefinite duration on the Gaza Strip as of Tuesday morning, which will bar residents from entering Israel.
Speaking from Rome, where he is on an official visit, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin laid blame for the attack on both Islamic fundamentalists and Syrian- supported terrorists. He said Israel would take necessary measures against acts of terror.
The Israel Defense Force chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Ehud Barak, said the army plans special measures to combat terror in the Gaza Strip, which was escalated as peace negotiations resumed Monday in Washington.
Barak said the last two months had seen 20 attempted attacks against Israeli vehicles and military installations, most of which had been foiled.
In the Knesset the opposition Likud blamed the government’s defense policy for the attack.
Likud Knesset member Michael Eitan called on Rabin to give up the defense portfolio.
Rafael Eitan, leader of the right-wing Tsomet party and a former army chief of staff, called for a renewal of tough measures employed against terrorists in the Gaza Strip in the 1970s.
He urged the army to seek out the terrorists “in orchards, in abandoned buildings and in other hiding places and kill them one by one.”
At the opposite end of the political spectrum, the Hadash Communists, a mainly Arab party, announced they would hold a torchlight procession in Haifa to mark the fifth anniversary of the intifada and to show solidarity with Palestinians.
“The intifada is an important historical event for Israelis, too, and is, in fact, what brought the Rabin government to power,” said Hadash Knesset member Tamar Gozansky.