JERUSALEM (Oct. 24)
Israeli security forces were placed on high alert this week amid reports that Hamas militants were planning a terror attack to coincide with President Clinton’s visit to the Middle East.
Some 15,000 Israeli police were slated to be on duty for Wednesday’s signing ceremony of the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty in the Arava, which Clinton was scheduled to attend, and for the president’s subsequent visit to Jerusalem.
American security teams arrived in Israel early in the week to set up security arrangements at the signing ceremony with their Israeli and Jordanian counterparts.
In the wake of last week’s terror bombing of a bus in Tel Aviv, the government continued its crackdown this week on members of Hamas, which claimed responsibility for the bombing and other recent attacks on Israelis.
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said Monday that Israeli security forces apprehended two Hamas members who had helped the terrorist who carried out last week’s bombing. The terrorist had stayed at the home of one of them the night before the Oct. 19 attack, Rabin said.
The Rabin government meanwhile weathered three no-confidence votes in the Knesset this week. The no-confidence measures brought by the opposition said the government was “unable to ensure the security” of the Israeli people.
In the Gaza Strip, Hamas political leader Mahmoud Zahar asked the Palestinian police to protect the Islamic group’s activists, according to Israel Radio.
Hamas leaders in the West Bank and Gaza warned of increasing violence and tension if Israel carries out what they said were plans to assassinate Hamas leaders.
Israeli security sources dismissed the Hamas claims, but confirmed that Israel had launched a wide-scale crackdown against the organization that has resulted in the arrests of dozens of Hamas members.
In Cairo, Israeli and Palestinian leaders issued a joint statement condemning terror.
The statement was issued after a meeting of the Israeli-Palestinian Liaison Committee, the steering group overseeing the ongoing negotiations, at which the two sides discussed the recent wave of Hamas terror attacks.
Despite the Tel Aviv bus bombing, which claimed 23 lives and left more than 40 wounded, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators meeting in Cairo continued their talks on the upcoming Palestinian elections.
Peres also said that Israel had asked Jordan to stop Hamas activities in Amman.
In the Jordanian capital this week, some 1,500 people, mostly university students, demonstrated against Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel, with leaders of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Muslim Brotherhood all vowing to undermine the accord.