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Hamas warns of new suicide campaign

SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Thursday, February 12, 2004

GAZA CITY Hamas has vowed to launch a new suicide campaign against Israel.

Hamas leaders have ordered operatives in Jerusalem and the West Bank to immediately carry out suicide attacks against Israeli targets inside the Jewish state. The Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip called for such attacks to be launched immediately, Middle East Newsline reported.

"The leadership calls on all its fighting cells in Jerusalem, Hebron, Nablus, Bethlehem, Jenin, Tulkarm and Gaza and in all the towns and villages to respond quickly to hit all the enemy positions it can reach with huge martyr operations," Hamas's military wing said in a statement.

The orders came in wake of Israeli military operations in the central and southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday in which 15 Palestinian insurgents were said to have been killed. All but one of the Palestinians were killed in a battle with an Israeli infantry, armored and air force in Gaza City.

The Israeli troops were said to have been on a mission to destroy mortars and missile arsenals in Gaza City. The force encountered Fatah and Hamas insurgents armed with anti-tank rockets, explosives devices or automatic fire.

By Thursday, Israeli police deployed reinforcement in major cities and raised their level of preparedness amid the Hamas threat. Officials said authorities have not received specific warnings of a Hamas attack.

One of those killed in the Israeli operation was Mohammed Hileh, the son of Fatah secretary-general in the Gaza Strip, Ahmed Hileh. Another casualty was identified as Hani Abu Skhaila, a senior Hamas insurgent who had escaped at least two Israeli assassination attempts.

In the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah, an Israeli armored force entered the Palestinian refugee camp in a search-and-destroy operation for tunnels. The 10-tank force was said to have searched for a tunnel packed with explosives for detonation against Israeli troops as well as a tunnel for the use of smuggling weapons.

Hours after the Israeli operation, Hamas gunners fired 10 Kassam-class short-range missiles and mortars toward Israeli targets in the eastern Gaza Strip and inside Israel. Two of the missiles struck the city of Sderot and another slammed into a house in the Gush Katif community in the central Gaza Strip. Nobody was seriously injured.

On Thursday, the Israel Security Agency reported the capture of a six-man Hamas cell responsible for the production and assembly of Kassam missiles in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The ISA said the cell was arrested and the Kassam facility was impounded on Jan. 6 in a joint operation with the Israeli military.

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