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Sucker punch: Israelis booby trap UAV sold to Hamas

SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Monday, February 17, 2003

GAZA CITY The Hamas movement has reported that its plans to develop an unmanned air vehicle with a weapons payload for attacks against Israel was sabotaged by the Israelis.

Hamas sources said the movement was preparing for its first UAV attack against Israel when an explosion killed six members in Gaza City on Sunday. The movement blamed Israel for the blast.

Hamas spokesman Abdul Aziz Rentisi said his movement had bought a UAV from what he termed were Israeli sources, Middle East Newsline reported. Rentisi said the UAV was booby-trapped and exploded when it was being unloaded from a truck on Sunday.

Other members of the group said the Hamas had planned to install an explosive payload on a small remote-controlled aircraft. They said the bomb was detonated by Israeli electronic systems, which killed the six Hamas members.

"The Israeli enemy used a unique technology which caused this massacre," Hamas spokesman Ismail Haniyeh said.

Palestinian sources said Hamas has also examined the prospect of procuring or developing motorized handgliders to fly insurgents from the Gaza Strip into Israel. The sources cited the 1987 handglider attack by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, which killed six Israeli soldiers near the Lebanese border.

One of those killed in the Sunday's blast was Nidal Farhat. Farhat was said to have been a designer of the Kassam-class rocket used against Israel.

On Monday, about 30 Israeli tanks and armored personnel carriers operated north of Gaza City and blew up the house of a key Hamas insurgent, Ahmed Ghandour. Ghandour was described as the key aide to Adnan Al Ghoul, regarded as the leading bombmaker in the movement. Two Palestinians were killed in the Israeli operation.

Later, Israeli troops shot and seriously injured Riyad Abu Zeid, head of Hamas's military wing in the Gaza Strip. Israeli troops ordered the car of Abu Zeid to stop near the Al Bureij refugee camp but opened fire when Abu Zeid refused and arrested him. Abu Zeid took over the command of Izzadin Al Kassam from Mohammed Deif who was seriously injured in a failed assassination attempt last year.

On Monday afternoon, an Israeli court indicted nine Israelis charged with giving Hizbullah intelligence information in exchange for tons of drugs. The nine included six residents of the northern Israeli village of Ghajar and three Kiryat Shemona residents.

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