As ceasefire announcement nears, fighting intensifies

Special to World
Friday, June 27, 2003

TEL AVIV The Israeli-Palestinian insurgency war continues to rage amid last-minute efforts to announce a ceasefire.

Palestinian insurgents continued to launch strikes against civilian targets in Israel while Israeli troops struck Hamas strongholds in the Gaza Strip.

On Friday, three suspected Hamas insurgents were killed when Israeli special forces, backed by tanks and attack helicopters, surrounded and destroyed the house of leading bomber. The helicopters fired toward the home of Adnan Al Ghul in Mujarkha, a village near Gaza City.

It was not clear whether Al Ghul was home, Palestinian sources said. But they said Al Ghul's brother and nephew were killed in the blast.

Al Ghul has been regarded as the leading Hamas fugitive sought by Israel. He is said to have directed missile and mortar attacks throughout the Gaza Strip over the last two years.

Israeli officials said Palestinian insurgents have been infiltrating Israel from the West Bank for attacks on civilian installations. On Thursday, an Israeli paramilitary force detected and killed two suspected Palestinian insurgents in Bakaa Gharabiya.

The two were part of a four-member insurgency squad that transported two suitcase bombs for an attack on an unspecified Israeli city, officials said. The remaining members were captured.

Officials acknowledged the prospect that leading insurgency groups would declare a three-month truce. They said the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has relayed its concern to the United States that the truce could jeopardize plans to disarm such groups as Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

On Friday, the Palestinian daily Al Ayyam reported that the insurgency groups would announce a ceasefire on Sunday. The newspaper said the announcement would be approved by PA Chairman Yasser Arafat.

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