JERUSALEM Ñ Israeli authorities have declared a new alert for
Palestinian suicide attacks.
Officials said Israel's military and security agencies have received
information that point to the infiltration of a suicide bomber from the West
Bank into Israel. They said the information reports plans by such groups as
Hamas and Islamic Jihad to send suicide bombers from the northern West Bank
to the Tel Aviv area.
On Monday, police and security forces were reinforced along the Israeli
areas adjacent to the West Bank cities of Kalkilya and Tulkarm. Two key
roads from the Israeli Arab city of Kfar Kassem were closed in an attempt to
prevent infiltration of suicide bombers.
By noon, a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up near an armored
Israeli military vehicle outside Kalkilya. One soldier was slightly hurt and
the Fatah-dominated Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claimed responsibility. The
suicide bomber was identified as a 17-year-old male from the northern West
Bank city of Nablus.
This was the second time in less than a week that authorities have been
warning of the prospect of an imminent suicide attack. Officials said that
Israeli intelligence agencies have received 45 alerts of an attack.
Last week, the Israel Security Agency was said to have warned against
easing restrictions on Palestinian labor in Israel. Officials said the
agency was concerned that Palestinian insurgency groups would exploit the
lifting of restrictions to send suicide bombers in the Jewish state.
At the same time, Israeli and Palestinian security chiefs have increased
contacts in what Israeli and Palestinian sources said appears to be an
attempt to arrange a ceasefire in the more than three-year-old
Israeli-Palestinian war. On Monday, the PA-owned Al Ayyam daily and Israeli
military sources reported that Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz met PA Finance
Minister Salam Fayyad. Mofaz was scheduled to meet next week in Washington
with U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The newspaper also said ISA
director Avi Dichter met PA National Security Adviser Jibil Rajoub.
In Ramallah, the Fatah Central Council was scheduled to convene later on
Monday to decide who will be the interior minister in the government of
Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei. Qurei wants Gen. Nasser Yusef to be named, but
PA Chairman Yasser Arafat opposes this appointment.