JERUSALEM (Feb. 28)
A week punctuated by terror attacks has been capped off with fighting across the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
On Thursday, an Israeli soldier and at least 10 armed Palestinians were killed in clashes in two West Bank refugee camps.
Israeli troops entered the camps near Jenin and Nablus early Thursday morning in what the army said was an action against terrorists and their infrastructure in the camps.
Staff Sgt. Haim Bachar, 20, of Tel Aviv, was killed and two other soldiers wounded during heavy clashes in the Balata refugee camp near Nablus.
Israel Radio reported that during the operation in Balata, the army ordered Palestinian civilians to leave their homes and go to neighboring Nablus.
In retaliation, Palestinian gunmen opened fire on Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood and threatened to attack it with missiles.
A 19-year-old Israeli sustained minor wounds when hit by a ricocheting bullet, according to the Jerusalem Post.
The paper also reported that the Al-Aksa Brigades, the military wing of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement, fired at least one mortar at Gilo.
The neighborhood has come under repeated Palestinian sniper fire from the nearby Arab village of Beit Jalla during the past 17 months of violence.
Israel answered the attack on Gilo with a helicopter attack on nearby Bethlehem. At least one Palestinian was wounded, Israel Radio reported.
In other violence Thursday, Palestinians fired mortars at the Israeli settlement of Netzarim in Gaza. There were no reported injuries.
Discussing the Israeli actions near Jenin and Nablus, Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer said soldiers did not plan to remain there indefinitely.
“We have only one interest, to stop the assembly line of suicide bombers who originate from there,” Ben-Eliezer said.
A suicide bomber who blew herself up at a West Bank roadblock Wednesday night, wounding three police officers, was identified as a resident of the Balata camp.
Hamas refused her request for explosives because she was a woman, so Dareen Abu Aisheh, 21, got what she needed from Arafat’s Fatah movement.
Fatah’s Al-Aksa Brigades claimed responsibility for Aisheh’s attack, in which she killed herself and wounded three Israeli police. But her relatives said Aisheh only used Fatah to get the bomb and remained at heart a fervent Hamas supporter, like her relatives.
Aisheh was the second woman to carry out a suicide bombing since the start of the Palestinian intifada 17 months ago. Just after she blew herself up Wednesday, Israeli security forces shot and killed two Palestinians who were in the car with her.
In another development Wednesday, an Israeli teen-ager died of wounds she sustained in a Feb. 16 suicide bombing.
Rachel Theler, 16, was critically wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up near a pizzeria in the West Bank settlement of Karnei Shomron. Two other teenagers were killed in the attack.
The daughter of immigrants from England and the United States, Theler was the eldest of three children. Her brother, Lior, was seriously wounded in the attack.
Theler’s family donated her organs for transplants.