Violence Hits Tel Aviv Streets, Along with West Bank and Gaza

Nearly two months after a deadly bombing outside a disco, a terrorist has again struck in Tel Aviv.

On Sunday, a Palestinian gunman opened fire on a street outside Israel’s Defense Ministry, lightly wounding 10 people, most of them soldiers.

Witnesses said the gunman stopped his car at an intersection, opened the door and began firing.

After he drove on, police opened fire on the car, seriously wounding the driver, who later died of his wounds. Police said the gunman was a married father of three from eastern Jerusalem.

Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer called the shooting attack “grave.”

At the same time, he said military action is not the solution to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. “The way to reach peace is not military, and I am prepared to meet with Yasser Arafat tomorrow morning,” he said.

The defense minister’s remarks came during a weekend marked more by heavy clashes than by dialogue.

On Sunday, Israel killed a Hamas member in what Palestinian witnesses said was a helicopter missile strike on his car in the West Bank city of Tulkarm.

Israel said Amar Madiri was preparing suicide attacks inside Israel.

Madiri was an assistant to Fuza Badran, a Hamas explosives expert killed last month in Tulkarm when his car exploded. The Palestinian Authority blamed Israel for Badran’s death, but Israel did not take responsibility for that incident.

In the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday, Israeli helicopters fired rockets at Palestinian police headquarters near the border with Egypt. Israel said the attack followed repeated Palestinian mortar attacks on Jewish settlements and Israeli army outposts in Gaza. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

Palestinians launched more than 50 mortar shells at settlements in Gaza last week, Israel Radio reported.

On Saturday, an aide to West Bank Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti was wounded when Israeli helicopters fired on a convoy of cars near Ramallah.

Some Palestinian sources said Barghouti, leader of Fatah’s Tanzim militias, was in the convoy, while others said he was in his office at the time.

Israel security sources denied that Barghouti was the target, noting that his aide had been involved in numerous terror attacks during the past 10 months of violence.

However, the sources did not rule out that the operation could serve as a warning to Barghouti.

Following the Israeli attack, Barghouti vowed that Israel would “pay for this new crime.”

Saturday’s strike was followed by heavy exchanges of fire between Israeli security forces and Palestinian gunmen across the West Bank.

The fighting also reached Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood.

In what was described as some of the heaviest fighting in months, gunfire echoed through Jerusalem on Saturday night after Palestinian gunmen in the nearby Arab town of Beit Jalla opened fire on Gilo, drawing a heavy Israeli response.

A 50-year old Gilo resident was wounded in the fighting and 14 apartments were damaged.

Last Friday, a bombing was averted at the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station when a security guard noticed a 23-year-old Palestinian woman carrying a suspicious package that turned out to contain more than eight pounds of explosives wrapped in nails. A bomb squad safely detonated the device.

In other violence last Friday, an Israeli man and two boys were lightly wounded when two mortars fired by Palestinians landed near a playground in the community of Kfar Darom in Gaza.

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