- Title: WEST BANK: The Israeli army kills three Islamic Jihad members in the West Bank
- Date: 31st October 2005
- Summary: EXTERIOR OF HOSPITAL GUNMAN AT ENTRANCE TO HOSPITAL CROWD CARRYING BODY OUT OF AMBULANCE, CHANTING MAN BEING CARRIED INTO HOSPITAL ANOTHER MAN BEING CARRIED ON STRETCHER INTO HOSPITAL BODY WHEELED INTO WARD DOCTORS AND FRIENDS GATHERED AROUND BODIES FRIENDS KISSING FACE OF DECEASED CROWD GATHERED IN HOSPITAL
- Embargoed: 15th November 2005 12:00
- Topics: Defence / Military
- Reuters ID: LVAAICAPJBFBSLXHJ1YJ6NCBTC38
- Story Text: Israeli troops killed three Islamic Jihad militants in a shootout in the West Bank on Sunday (October 30), hours after the faction agreed to halt rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, Palestinian security sources said.
A week of violence has badly damaged a nearly nine-month-old truce and hopes that Israel's withdrawal from the occupied Gaza Strip in September could energise peacemaking in the Middle East. A gunbattle erupted at sunset when Israeli troops surrounded the hideout of an Islamic Jihad militant in Qabatiya, the West Bank home town of the Jihad suicide bomber who killed five Israelis in a market place on Wednesday (October 26). Palestinian security sources said three gunmen had been shot dead.
Militants battled troops nearby and Israeli helicopters sent down bursts of gunfire. The army did not comment. The fighting in the West Bank followed a day of unusual quiet around the Gaza Strip. Palestinian officials said Islamic Jihad had agreed to halt cross-border rocket attacks and renew its "commitment to calm" as long as there were no Israeli raids. Israel had decided to stop air strikes launched in response to the rockets, they said. However in the West Bank, Islamic Jihad warned that a response would come soon. Israeli officials said that if rocket fire from Gaza stopped then raids there would stop too, but that operations against Islamic Jihad would continue following the suicide bombing in the city of Hadera. Sharon cannot afford to look weak ahead of coming parliamentary tests in which he is challenged by far rightists who argued that his withdrawal from Gaza would reward militants and encourage violence.
The prime minister struggled on Sunday to win support for new cabinet nominations to be put to parliament on Monday. He is also expected to face a slew of confidence votes. Islamic Jihad began the latest round of rocket fire from Gaza and carried out the suicide attack following Israel's killing of one of its top commanders in the West Bank a week ago. Airstrikes killed nine Palestinians, most of them militants, since Thursday (October 27). Islamic Jihad did not say that it would halt suicide bombings alongside the new commitment to halt rocket fire.
The United States had appealed to Israel for caution in its assaults on militants, while also urging Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to take action to rein in the armed groups waging an uprising since 2000. Palestinians are meant to start disarming the factions under a U.S.-backed "road map", but Abbas has said that to use force could risk civil war. Israel has not met its own road map commitment to freeze West Bank settlement building.
Palestinian Interior Minister Nasser Youssef said on Saturday his forces would confiscate guns on the streets and "deal firmly" with workshops making weapons or explosives. There was no immediate sign of action.
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