JERUSALEM ø Hamas has restored its insurgency network in the
southern West Bank.
Hamas was said to have rebuilt its network in Hebron over the last few
weeks, Israeli security sources said. The Hebron cell claimed responsibility
for two suicide bombings in the Israeli city of Beersheba in which 16 people
were killed and 100 were injured.
Two buses about 100 meters apart were targeted and blown up by the Hamas
operatives. The attacks were said to have been ordered by Imad Qawasmeh,
head of the Hamas network in Hebron and a cousin of one of the suicide
bombers. Qawasmeh was said to have received funds from Hamas headquarters in
The Hamas attack on Tuesday was the bloodiest in Israel since the
Israeli assassination of Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin in March 2004. Since
then, Hamas has threatened but failed to launch a series of revenge attacks.
Israeli sources said Hamas has rebuilt some of its infrastructure in the
West Bank, including in the cities of Bethlehem and Hebron. But they said
the organization remains far weaker than it was in 2003.
Earlier on Tuesday, Israeli troops captured a would-be suicide bomber
who tried to enter the Erez terminal in the northern Gaza Strip. The sources
said the attempt indicated Hamas has planned a series of attacks on the eve
of the resumption of the school year.
In Tuesday's attack, two Hamas suicide bombers blew themselves up on
buses in Beersheba. A Hamas communique later said the strikes were to avenge
the Israeli killings of Yassin and his deputy, Abdul Aziz Rantisi. Both
suicide bombers came from Hebron.
Earlier, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon released a new timetable to
implement his plan for unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and
northern West Bank. The plan called for the submission of legislation to the
Knesset by Nov. 3, the day after the U.S. presidential elections, for the
withdrawal of and compensation to nearly 10,000 people.
Sharon has ordered the Israeli military to be responsible for the
evacuation of the Israelis from 25 communities in the Gaza Strip and the
northern West Bank. The military would be aided by the nation's police