Intifada violence continued throughout the territories over the weekend, with over 30 incidents involving gunfire, including several running gun battles between Palestinians and IDF soldiers in Hebron and the surrounding area.
Palestinians claim six were killed and 60 wounded in clashes with soldiers, pronouncing them martyrs of the "Aksa intifada." However, two were killed in a car accident near the Hura intersection in the south, and a third from Tulkarm died of illness en route to a hospital. The army denied Palestinian claims that soldiers at a roadblock had prevented him from reaching the hospital.
Over the weekend, Palestinians shot at homes in the Jewish community of Hebron, at army positions at Tel Rumeida, and the tombs of Ruth and Yishai (Jesse, father of King David). Jewish community residents called on Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon to retake the surrounding hilltops from where Palestinians shoot at the community, saying that turning the majority of Hebron over to Palestinian control was a mistake.
On Saturday night, the Jerusalem-Gush Etzion (tunnel) road was closed to traffic for several hours after Palestinian gunmen in Beit Jalla shot at IDF positions on the slopes of Jerusalem's Gilo neighborhood. The IDF retaliated with tank shells and machine-gun fire.
According to reports, 10 Palestinians were injured in clashes on Sunday, three in Rafah, four in Khan Yunis and three near El Khader. The focus of the violence was in the Gaza Strip, with gun battles raging last night between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers manning an army post near Neveh Dekalim. Throughout the day, Palestinian gunmen in Khan Yunis shot at Israeli civilian vehicles and army posts at the Neveh Dekalim industrial site. For the first time, the army used a crane to lift an armor-plated cage containing soldiers high above the ground to pinpoint and shoot at the gunmen.
Palestinian snipers shot at an Israeli vehicle and buses transporting Israeli and Palestinian workers to the industrial site and at the IDF jeeps accompanying them. Several bullets penetrated the buses, but there were no casualties. Due to the intense gun battles in the afternoon, the army ordered the evacuation of all civilians from the industrial site.
Sunday night, three grenades were thrown at an IDF armored truck traveling on the border with Egypt, and earlier a grenade was thrown at an army truck traveling in the same area. Shots were also fired at the southern Gaza Strip district coordinating office.
Also Sunday night in Samaria, soldiers fired four tank shells at Palestinian terrorists who shot at and detonated a roadside bomb near an IDF jeep at Bukra, close to Shavei Shomron.
In the afternoon, Palestinians in a passing car shot at soldiers guarding the entrance to Halamish, and earlier two roadside bombs exploded near an army convoy south of Jenin.
In a creative display of hostility, young Hizb'Allah scouts released a bouquet of colored balloons containing the warning: "Beware, Hizb'Allah is coming" opposite an IDF border outpost Sunday. Two giant balloons - with no explosives attached - landed on the northern city of Kiryat Shmona. As the large words written on them indicated, they were sent by Hizb'Allah, and the city was placed on alert until it was ascertained that the balloons presented no danger.
Israeli residents of the northern Samaria community of Homesh were unable to leave or enter their settlement Monday morning due to a series of roadside charges discovered along the approach road. One of the hidden charges blew up near an IDF patrol during the night. No soldiers were injured in the blast. Three more devices were found Monday and detonated in controlled explosions by sappers. The IDF sealed off the area and is combing the vicinity for more devices. Another road leading to Homesh has been closed since the beginning of the hostilities with the Palestinians. The road passes through a nearby village and is no longer used by the community's residents due to numerous stoning attacks on their vehicles.
Finally, a leading Hamas activist was critically wounded in the Balata refugee camp in the "West Bank" on Monday by shots witnesses said were fired from nearby Israeli army positions. The IDF has not yet issued a comment. The terrorist operative was an important Hamas figure in the area and had served four years in an Israeli jail.
Used with Permission from International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.