JERUSALEM (May. 19)
In the unending battle against Palestinian militants in the administered territories, the Israeli army prided itself on the killing this week of two activists, at least one of them armed.
The clash took place Tuesday night in a southern suburb of Hebron. It was the first major confrontation between the Israel Defense Force and gunmen since the territories were sealed off from Israel proper almost two months ago.
A senior officer said the soldiers were in the midst of “routine work,” when they closed in on a deserted building serving as a hideout for the militants.
The soldiers reportedly called on the men to come out of the building before taking action against them.
According to military sources, there was no response, and so soldiers fired an anti-tank missile at the building to force the terrorists out.
When the two Palestinian tried to flee the scene, they disobeyed orders to stop and were shot and killed.
One of them reportedly was carrying a Kalachnikov rifle. The soldiers found blankets and plenty of food in their room, indicating they had spent the past few days hiding in the building.
The soldiers also found false identity cards and hundreds of Jordanian dinars, the currency used by some Palestinians in the West Bank.
Palestinian sources said the two had belonged to an armed wing of the Islamic fundamentalist Hamas group, which earlier this week had claimed responsibility for the murder of the four vegetable dealers in the Gaza Strip.
A senior army officer said the two men were on their way to carry out a terrorist attack.
In another development, Theo Samuel, an Israeli soldier badly wounded in an attack on an army observation post last week in Nablus, died of his wounds Wednesday at Tel Hashomer Hospital in Ramat Gan. He was 21.