Senior Fundamentalist Fighter Killed
JERUSALEM (AP) _ Israeli troops shot dead a senior Islamic fundamentalist fighter in Jerusalem today, just two days after a similar killing in the Gaza Strip led to the worst rioting since the Sept. 13 Palestinian-Israeli accord.
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin has warned that the Gaza rioting could lead to a delay in the start of the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, scheduled for Dec. 13.
Paramilitary police and security agents shot Khaled Mustafa Zer dead in an olive grove after they chased him out of his hideout in the Arab Jerusalem suburb of Sur Bahir, witnesses and police said.
Zer, 25, was a senior member of the Izzedine el Qassem, the military wing of the Hamas fundamentalist Islamic movement, the main opposition to the Israel-PLO accord. He was wanted for killing a settler and two soldiers in recent months, police said.
The military censor suppressed the news of Zer’s death for nine hours.
Residents stoned police removing the body. Later, Zer’s relatives arrived to bury the bloodstained stones where his body had fallen.
Friday’s incident was a virtual replay of Wednesday’s killing in Gaza of Imad Aqal, the founder and leader of el-Qassem, sparking one of the bloodiest days of rioting since the accord was signed.
Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasser Arafat urged a quick Israeli pullout from the occupied territories as the surest way to end the violence.
Thirty-four Palestinians, including one 10-year-old and two 12-year-olds, were injured in the riots Thursday. One of the 34, a Palestinian visiting from Saudi Arabia, died today of his wounds.
The body of another Palestinian man was found in Jebaliya refugee camp in Gaza. He was believed slain by fellow Arabs as an alleged collaborator with Israel, reports said.
A commercial strike in Gaza went into its second day in memory of Aqal, and protesters burned tires and marched by the thousands to demand revenge. Mosque preachers in Gaza and Jerusalem called for reprisals and spoke against the peace pact with Israel.
The bloodshed in Gaza follows other clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in the territories since the peace accord was signed Sept. 13.
The violence has eroded support for the peace pact in Israel, and Rabin said Thursday that Israeli troops might not begin pulling out of Gaza and Jericho on the West Bank by Dec. 13, as stipulated in the peace plan.
Palestinians have said that Israel’s compliance with the deadline would establish the credibility of the peace process. But Rabin told Israeli television the deadline was not ″sacred″ and is only a target date.
″It is better to allot more time and to know that we have finished something over which there are no misunderstandings, or different interpretations,″ he said.
At a news conference in Oslo, Arafat urged the Israelis to pull back.
″It is very dangerous and very serious,″ Arafat said of the clashes. ″This escalation has to be stopped. The only way to stop it is the quick implementation of the agreement″ for the Israeli troops to withdraw.
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in Cairo have not yet resolved how Israel will protect Jewish settlements after the pullout and who will control border crossings with Egypt and Jordan. They ended another round of talks Thursday without setting a date for resuming the negotiations.
About 2,000 protesters in Gaza City marched behind a banner saying, ″We will take revenge,″ referring to the slaying of Aqal. Mosque preachers called for an escalation in violence, Arab reports said.
In Jerusalem, about 20,000 Muslims heard sermons against the peace agreement at Sabbath prayers at Al Aqsa mosque on Temple Mount, but the worshipers dispersed quietly, army radio said.
Aqal, 23, was commander of the military wing of the Muslim fundamentalist group Hamas, which is committed to Israel’s destruction. Israeli troops killed him at a roadblock on Wednesday.
A Jewish settler was arrested entering Ben Gurion Airport outside Tel Aviv with explosive devices and gun silencers in his luggage, Israel radio reported.
The suspect was identified as Avraham Toledano, 35, of the Kiryat Arba settlement near Hebron in the West Bank.
Toledano is active with the extremist Kach movement founded by the late New York-born Rabbi Meir Kahane, the radio said.