Islamic Jihad Leader Killed In Gaza
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) _ Masked men firing from a passing car shot and killed a senior leader in the militant group Islamic Jihad today, witnesses said.
The slain man, Mahmoud Khawaja, was apparently involved in planning attacks on Israelis. He had served six years in an Israeli prison in the 1980s and was twice questioned in recent months by Yasser Arafat’s security forces.
Islamic Jihad, a small group with a few thousand followers, has been trying to derail the Israel-PLO autonomy agreement with deadly attacks on Israelis.
Khawaja was killed after months of relative calm in the Gaza Strip. His death could undermine a delicate dialogue Arafat’s administration has been holding with Islamic Jihad and a larger Muslim militant faction, Hamas.
The identity of the gunmen was not immediately known. Khawaja’s relatives blamed Palestinians collaborating with Israel for carrying out the killing.
Khawaja, 34, was walking near his home in the Shati refugee camp this morning when the car pulled up, said an Islamic Jihad activist, Adnan Hasneh.
Neighbors said three men were in the car, a driver and two masked passengers. One of the masked men aimed a pistol equipped with a silencer at Khawaja and opened fire.
Khawaja, who was on his way to work at the Shati office of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, was hit and died on the street, Hasneh said.