40 suicide attack alerts detected during recent calm in Israel

Friday, October 31, 2003

TEL AVIV Despite the calm over the last few weeks, Palestinian insurgency groups are said to have recruited and prepared for a wave of suicide bombings.

Israeli officials said security agencies have detected more than 40 alerts for suicide attacks. They said the alerts included plans by a range of insurgency groups, including the ruling Fatah movement and Islamic opposition cells.

During the period from Oct. 19 to 29, officials said, Israeli security authorities prevented seven suicide attacks in Israel, Middle East Newsline reported. They said one of the attacks was meant to be a double suicide strike in the northern city of Bet Shean during the Islamic fast month of Ramadan.

The wave of suicide plots reflect heightened cooperation by Palestinian insurgency groups, officials said. They cited the planned Bet Shean strike, which was to have been carried out by Fatah and Islamic Jihad. Authorities arrested senior commanders from the two organization on Oct. 19.

On Thursday, Hamas said it would not suspend suicide attacks against Israeli targets despite the current reconciliation dialogue with the Palestinian Authority. Hamas said it seeks to avenge Israeli attacks on Palestinians.

"It is not possible for us at this stage to speak about a ceasefire," Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin told the Qatari-owned A-Jazeera satellite television. "We speak about the cessation of the Israeli aggression. If the Israeli aggression will stop, then we will be able to speak about anything."

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine was also involved in plans for a wave of attacks on Israel. On Oct. 20, Israeli authorities arrested a suspected PFLP agent in a refugee camp in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

Officials said Israel's military has determined that Islamic Jihad and the PFLP have also been cooperating in suicide strike plots. They said a Jihad commander in the area of the northern West Bank city of Tulkarm was found to have recruited suicide bombers and prepared explosives for the PFLP, based in Ramallah.

The arrests of Palestinian insurgents came as internecine violence has increased in the West Bank. On Thursday, a former Palestinian police commander was shot and wounded by Palestinian insurgents in Nablus. The former police official was accused of corruption.

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