RAMALLAH Ñ Hamas and the Islamic Jihad have discussed plans for major
attacks on Israel during the Iraq war, according the Palestinian security sources.
The sources said senior officials have met representatives of
the Hamas and Islamic Jihad and warned them not to launch suicide missions
in Israel during the U.S.-led war against Iraq. The sources said such an
attack would spark a harsh Israeli retaliation and could endanger the regime
of PA Chairman Yasser Arafat.
But on late Wednesday, Palestinian sources reported clashes between
Hamas gunmen and PA security forces in Gaza City. They said PA General
Intelligence agents launched the anti-Hamas operation.
Hamas has reassured the United States that it would not be a target in any
Palestinian attack. Hamas said it would not attack Americans or U.S.
installations in either the Palestinian areas or anywhere else in the Middle
East. Hamas also denied that it had established a cell in Kuwait to attack
U.S. military targets.
"Despite the American support for the Zionist entity and despite the
fact that Iraq is part of our Islamic nation, we consider our battle here in
Palestine against the Zionist entity to be our only legitimate battle,"
Hamas spokesman Abdul Aziz Rentisi said. "The Hamas movement is not going to
target any American interests at all, at any time."
On Thursday, Palestinian gunners fired Kassam-2 short-range missiles
from the northern Gaza Strip toward Israel. At the same time, Israeli
officials said authorities captured a suspected would-be Palestinian suicide
bomber in the West Bank.
Israeli officials said they have accelerated security cooperation
efforts with the PA to avoid any major attacks inside Israel. President
Moshe Katsav said that he secretly met last week with PA Interior Minister
Hani Al Hassan.
Al Hassan was said to have offered a ceasefire in exchange for an
Israeli withdrawal from cities in the West Bank. Katsav said the PA must
first stop attacks against Israel.