RAMALLAH Ñ The Islamic Jihad commander of a major West Bank city
has been killed in an Israeli military operation.
Israeli special forces attacked a home in Hebron that was used as a safe
house by Mohammed Sidr, regarded as the commander of Islamic Jihad in the
southern West Bank. The forces surrounded the building, which contained a
carpentry workshop, and fired a missile that killed Sidr. Later, the
building was demolished.
Israeli officials said Sidr was high up on Israel's most wanted list in
West Bank. They said Sidr was responsible for killing 19 Israelis and the
wounding of 82 others.
Sidr, 25, was also said to have ordered the operation that killed two
international observers deployed in Hebron in 2002. The observers came from
the Temporary International Presence in Hebron, established in 1995.
"It should be stressed that Sidr was in the midst of planning to carry
out a terrorist attack in the coming days," an Israeli military statement
Israeli security sources said Sidr was the chief liasion with Islamic
Jihad headquarters in Damascus. They said Sidr also
built a laboratory to produce and improve the lethality of explosives.
Sidr also recruited, armed and trained suicide squads, the security
sources said. They said Israel has received 25 alerts of suicide bombings
other attacks against civilian and military targets.
The Palestinian Authority has condemned the Israeli military operation
in Hebron. Jihad has vowed to take avenge Sidr's death.
Meanwhile Palestinian security forces have clashed with Islamic
Jihad insurgents in the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian sources said a shootout erupted on late Wednesday during an
attempted arrest of a Jihad insurgent. The sources said PA officers had
suspected the insurgent of leading an attack on a PA security installation.
One Jihad insurgent was injured in the shootout, the sources said. The
The PA Interior Ministry has confirmed the clash in Gaza City. A
ministry statement said
PA forces sought to arrest Ala Qaidan, a member of Jihad's Al Quds military
The ministry said Qaidan was a suspect in a bombing attack of the PA
Preventive Security Apparatus installation on Aug. 3 in the northern Gaza
statement said Qaidan planted and then detonated the bomb in front of the
There were no reports of injuries among the PA police in the Gaza City
shootout. Palestinian sources said insurgents from Jihad and the ruling
Fatah movement have staged several attacks against installations of the PSA
and Military Intelligence,
the latter headed by Mussa Arafat, the nephew of PA Chairman Yasser Arafat.
The Jihad attack was attributed to a PA effort to confiscate illegal
weapons in the Gaza Strip. Palestinian sources said an unspecified number of
raids have targeted Jihad and other insurgency groups in the region.
Israeli and Palestinian sources said PA Security Affairs Minister
Mohammed Dahlan has taken other steps to neutralize Jihad. On Friday, the
Israeli daily Haaretz reported that Dahlan's ministry seized $3 million in
transferred from Iran to Jihad.
Over the weekend, an Egyptian security delegation is expected to arrive
in the Gaza Strip in an effort to maintain a lid on tensions between
Palestinian insurgency groups and the PA. Palestinian sources said the
delegation was part of an Egyptian effort to maintain a truce between the
insurgency groups and Israel.