The Palestinian Authority continues to withhold cooperation with the United States in its effort to capture those
responsible for a bombing that killed three U.S. embassy guards just over a year ago.
Officials said that despite numerous appeals, PA security chiefs have
not provided the United States with suspects or information regarding the
Oct. 15, 2003 bombing of a U.S. convoy outside Gaza City. The convoy was
transporting U.S. embassy staffers and visitors to interview Palestinians
for a Fulbright scholarship.
[On Monday, Israel's military killed six Palestinian insurgents, four of
whom crossed into Israel from the Gaza Strip, Middle East Newsline reported. At least two of the
infiltrators were said to have carried guns, ammunitions and explosive
"We haven't seen them demonstrate either the will, much less the
capacity, to investigate the case seriously," State Department spokesman
Richard Boucher said on Oct. 15. "We have seen statements from time to time
by Palestinian officials that they know who did it. And if that's true, then
they should take immediate action to arrest and prosecute whoever did it."
Officials said the State Department has determined that the bombers came
from the ruling Fatah movement, led by PA Chairman Yasser Arafat. They said
the department received what officials termed credible information that the
bombing plot was planned by Fatah operatives in August 2003 and
approved in principle by Arafat.
The American casualties were identified as security guards for the
private contractor DynCorp. DynCorp has a contract with the State Department
to help protect embassies and staffers around the world.
In February 2004, the PA held a one-day trial for four Palestinians
accused of participating in the bombing. Later, the PA High Court ordered
the detainees released and they haven't been seen since.
"At the time that they made those arrests," Boucher said, "we expressed
certain skepticism that they had arrested the people who were really
responsible for these crimes, and felt that there was further serious
investigation and action that needed to be taken."
The United States has offered a $5 million reward for information that
would lead to the capture of the bombers. But so far officials did not
report any breakthrough.
Officials said the State Department has told the PA that U.S. officials
would not enter the Gaza Strip until the bombing investigation was resolved.
The department has also warned the PA that Washington would not provide aid
to the Arafat regime unless the real killers of the Americans were captured