Vol. 5 Num 64 Fri. July 30, 2004  

3 Palestinians Killed
Rockets fired at Israel in ME violence flare-up

Three Palestinian militants, including a local military leader, were killed in a flare-up of violence yesterday, which also saw the firing of two rockets at a town in southern Israel.

Two of the militants were killed in the southern Gaza Strip when a device they had planted near the Jewish settlement of Netzer Serani exploded, Palestinian security sources said.

One of the two, Yunis al Abadla, was a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed offshoot of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, while the second victim was named as Mohammed Odwan, a member of Islamic Jihad's armed wing.

A local leader of Jihad's military outfit, the Al-Quds Brigades, was also killed in a firefight with Israeli troops in the northern West Bank, Palestinian security officials said.

Zahel al Ashkar, 27, was shot dead in a field outside the village of Ilar, near the town of Tulkarem, the sources said.

Dozens of jeeps had entered the area overnight where they carried out a series of arrests and searches of homes before becoming involved in the gun battle with Ashkar, who was wanted by the army in connection with a series of anti-Israeli attacks.

A military spokesman confirmed the Palestinian's death, adding that he had opened fire on the troops.

The latest deaths brought the overall toll since the September 2000 start of the Palestinian Intifada, or uprising, to 4,203, including 3,206 Palestinians and 926 Israelis, according to an AFP count.

Meanwhile two homemade Palestinian rockets fired from the Gaza Strip landed in the southern Israeli town of Sderot on Thursday but without causing any casualties, a military source said.

A number of shops and cars were damaged when the rockets exploded in a street, leaving some residents in a state of shock.

The latest attack comes despite the continuation of an Israeli offensive in the nearby Gaza town of Beit Hanun designed to put an end to such attacks after two people were killed by a rocket in Sderot on June 28, an attack claimed by the militant Islamist movement Hamas.

Meanwhile military sources said that the family home of a Hamas activist had been destroyed in a controlled explosion near the central West Bank city of Ramallah.

Salah Musa has already been arrested over his alleged involvement in a suicide attack on a cafe in Jerusalem in September last year.