Palestinian mine destroys Israeli tank, kills all five crew members

Sunday, February 16, 2003

GAZA CITY An Israeli tank blew up Saturday when it rolled over a Palestinian mine. All five crew members were killed in the explosion near the coastal Israeli community of Dugit in the northern Gaza Strip.

The tank was identified as an upgraded U.S.-built M-60 tank, called the Magach-7.

"It could have been that the mine was in the area for a long time," Maj. Gen. Doron Almog, the head of the military's Southern Command, said.

Israeli military sources said the mine weighed more than 100 kilograms. They said military units could not rescue the crew because munitions in the tank caught fire and began to explode, Middle East Newsline reported.

The Islamic opposition Hamas movement claimed responsibility. It was the fourth tank destroyed by the Palestinians in the more than two-year-old insurgency war against Israel. The other three tanks destroyed were the Israeli-origin Merkava Mk-3 tanks.

In Ramallah Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat has pledged to appoint a prime minister. PA officials said the most likely candidate is his longtime aide and interior minister, Hani Al Hassan.

"I have decided to appoint a prime minister," Arafat said on Friday. "I will call for an immediate meeting of the Palestinian Legislative Council to discuss this decision and to take the needed measures."

Officials said the United States wants Arafat to appoint a pro-Western reformer such as PLO Executive Committee secretary Mahmoud Abbas or PA Finance Minister Salim Fayyad. But they said Arafat distrusts both of these men because of their ties to Washington.

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