Palestinian gunman wounds 10 in Tel Aviv; Three Palestinians, one Israeli killed in day of violence
TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) – A Palestinian opened fire on soldiers in front of the Defense Ministry on a busy Tel Aviv street Sunday, injuring 10 people in the first mass shooting in an Israeli city since the fighting began last September. The gunman was hit by return fire and died in the hospital.
Hours later, Israeli helicopters fired missiles in the West Bank town of Tulkarem, killing Hamas activist Amer Mansour Habiri, 23, as he traveled in a car, witnesses said.
Israel’s army claimed Habiri was named as a ”senior terrorist” during ”the interrogations of Hamas activists” in the area. Israel alleged that he was responsible for multiple bombings and shootings, and was organizing suicide attacks that were to take place within days.
In a day filled with violence, an Israeli woman was killed and four more Israelis wounded when Palestinian gunmen fired on their car in the West Bank. Also, a Palestinian trying to plant a bomb near a Jewish settlement in the West Bank was shot and killed by Israeli troops, the army and Palestinian security officials said.
Israel has come under international criticism for its targeted killings of suspected Palestinian militants. But Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says the policy will remain in place unless Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat reins in militants.
”One must understand that Arafat could avoid it,” Sharon told ”Fox News Sunday.” Israel sent the Palestinians a list of ”about 100 terrorists” it wants arrested, Sharon added. ”What (Arafat) has to do is just to stop them,” he said.
The Israeli Defense Ministry later published a list of what it called the seven ”main terrorists” whose arrests it has demanded from the Palestinian Authority.
Sharon also reasserted his strong opposition to the Palestinian demand for international observers in the Middle East conflict. ”We will not be able to accept international forces or international observers,” he said.
The Palestinians say they want monitors to keep tabs on Israel’s military. But the Israelis have long resisted such calls, saying that such a force would not be effective and may be biased against Israel.
Palestinian gunmen carry out daily shooting attacks against Israeli targets, but most take place in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip. Sunday’s shooting in Tel Aviv was the first mass shooting in an Israeli city since the Mideast fighting began 10 months ago. Tel Aviv is Israel’s largest city.
”This is a symbolic issue. (The Palestinians) are bringing attacks to the middle of Tel Aviv, the largest Israeli city, very close to the fences of the main military installation,” said army spokesman Brig. Gen. Ron Kitrey.
The gunman, Ali al-Julani, was traveling in a black car and opened fire with an M-16 automatic rifle as large numbers of soldiers were leaving the Defense Ministry building for lunch. Of the 10 injured, eight were soldiers. The wounded suffered light to moderate injuries.
Soldiers and police fired back and hit al-Julani, critically wounding him in the chest, police said. His car crashed into a nearby lamppost and he died later in a Tel Aviv hospital, family members told The Associated Press.
Al-Julani, a 30-year-old from east Jerusalem, had no previous record of involvement in violence, Israeli security forces said.
Tel Aviv was the scene of a Palestinian suicide bombing on June 1 that killed 21 young people outside a disco. That was the deadliest single attack in the Israeli-Palestinian fighting. But Tel Aviv, on the Mediterranean coast, is regarded as safer than most cities because of the large presence of security forces and its distance from the Palestinian territories.
In another incident early Sunday, Israeli helicopters fired rockets at Palestinian police offices in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. The Israeli raid followed repeated mortar attacks by the Palestinians.
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