Israel attacks Hamas targets after tank crew is killed in Gaza.
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
srael broadened its military oper-
ations in the Gaza Strip this
week in response to a Hamas
attack that killed four Israeli sol-
As a result of the operations, Israeli
forces killed at lelst 17 Palestinians dur-
ing a week that threatened yet more
violence to come.
In the most deadly of Israel's military
operations, at least 11 Palestinian gun-
men were killed during an incursion
into Gaza City on Tuesday night. It was
the second such incursion in as many
days. Some 40 tanks backed up by mil-
itary helicopters entered a neighbor-
hood considered a hotbed of Hamas
activity and destroyed four weapons
factories and 32 machines used for
making weapons. During the six-hour
operation, the troops came under heavy
fire, but there were no Israeli casualties.
As part of the violence and retaliation
that has marked the intifada,
Palestinians retaliated Wednesday by
firing three Kassam rockets at the Israeli
town of Sderot. A 35-year-old Israeli
man suffered serious head injuries in
the attack, the army said. No group
claimed responsibility, though Hamas
has frequently carried out rocket attacks
from the Gaza Strip on the Sderot area.
In recent days, Israeli security officials
had noted efforts by the Palestinian
Authority to prevent Hamas rocket
attacks at Israeli targets from Gaza, but
Wednesday's attack apparently marked
a return to an earlier Palestinian strate-
Israel vowed Wednesday to prevent
more such attacks. "We will use what-
ever resources are at our disposal to
slam the door on the terror spewing
out of the Gaza Strip," said David
Baker, an official in the Prime
In other violence Wednesday, two
Palestinians were reportedly killed when
a large Israeli force entered the West
Bank city of Nablus. Soldiers carried
out searches for Palestinian terrorists
and exchanged fire with Palestinian
The four Israeli soldiers killed
Saturday were members of a tank crew.
They died when a large mine weighing
more than 200 pounds exploded
beneath their tank in northern Gaza.
The four were identified as Cpl. Noam
Bahagon, 20, of Elkana; Sgt. Tal Alexei
Belitzky, 21, of Rishon le-Zion; Staff
Sgt. Doron Cohen, 21, of Rishon le-
Zion; and Sgt. Itay Mizrahi, 20, of
This was the fourth such fatal attack
against a tank during the past year.
Hamas claimed responsibility for the
attack, saying it was to avenge the
recent killink of tv,ro of its members in
Gaza by Israeli troops.
Israeli army officials believe the tank
set off the mine when it deviated from
the path being cleared by a bulldozer
that was traveling ahead the tank.
The attack touched off a series of
Israeli actions against Hamas targets.
On Monday night, Israeli troops
killed a Hamas member wanted for
involvement in terrorist attacks. Israeli
troops operating near Hebron sur-
rounded the house Mohammed Muhr
was hiding in and opened fire when he
refused to surrender.
Earlier Monday, Israeli troops shot a
Hamas leader, Riad Abu Zeid, in an
operation near a Gaza refugee camp.
He later died of his injuries in an Israeli
hospital. Abu Zeid was believed to have
taken over from Mohammad Deif, who
was seriously wounded in an Israeli
military missile raid in the Gaza Strip
several months ago.
Also Monday, two Palestinians were
killed and four others wounded in
exchanges of fire erupting in an Israeli
military incursion into Gaza City.
In another development, six Hamas
members were killed Sunday in an
explosion in Gaza City. Hamas blamed
Israel, but Israeli sources said the blast
New Jerusalem mayor stirs anxiety among the city's non-Orthodox population.
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
he appointment of an act-
ing mayor in Jerusalem has
provided a new source of
religious-secular tensions in
the sharply divided city.
On Feb. 16, after Jerusalem Mayor
Ehud Olmert announced his resigna-
tion so he could take a seat in the
Knesset, he was succeeded by Deputy
Mayor Uri Lupoliansky of the
Orthodox Agudat Yisrael Party.
Lupoliansky, the first fervently
Orthodox Jew to lead Israel's capital, is
likely to remain mayor until municipal
elections are held in October.
Lupoliansky's appointment reflects
the ascendancy of the Orthodox par-
ties in Jerusalem's City Council — of
eight deputy mayors, six are Orthodox
— which has caused anxiety among
secular Jews and officials of the liberal
Nevertheless, in his inaugural speech
as acting mayor, the 50-year-old
Lupoliansky said people should not be
"judged on the basis of their lifestyle and
dress, but on the basis of their acts."
"I extend my hand to all," he told
the City Council, which includes a
Conservative rabbi, an Israeli Arab and
a leader of the gay community. "I will
be everyone's mayor and act to reduce
the feelings of discrimination and neg-
lect" among the Arab residents of east-
ern Jerusalem, he said.
Anat Hoffman, the director of the
Israel Religious Action Center and for-
merly a Meretz legislator in the city
council, believes his "major test will be
his attitude toward Progressive
Lupoliansky has been asked to meet
soon with Rabbi David Ellenson, the
president of the Reform movement's
Hebrew Union College-Jewish
Institute of Religion campus. "He
[Lupoliansky] will have to bite the
bullet," Hoffman said. "If he accepts
the meeting, then we know this is a
man we can deal with. If not, there
will be international repercussions."
Dudi Zilberschlag, an adviser to Israel
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on
Orthodox affairs, expressed the stance
of the Orthodox Council of Torah
Sages when it comes to meeting with
officials from the liberal Jewish
streams. "If the council of rabbis
allows it, the meeting will happen. But
we are not about to compromise on
any element of Judaism.
"In fact, the sages prefer to deal with
Hamas or the evangelists than Reform.
We pay and are willing to pay a very
high price to keep Orthodoxy."
Meanwhile, Roni Alon, a city coun-
cilwoman for the secular Jerusalem
Now Party, said, "Lupoliansky is the
worst thing that could happen to
Jerusalem." A fervently Orthodox
mayor would ban soccer games on the
Sabbath, halt funding to museums that
operate on the Sabbath and not issue
licenses to the few restaurants and cafes
open in Jerusalem on Friday nights
and Saturdays, she told Haaretz.
In order to allay the fears of secular
parties like Jerusalem Now — and
indeed of the majority of Jerusalemites
who are not Orthodox — Lupoliansky
pledged as one of his first steps as acting
mayor to maintain the status quo on
matters of religion and state in the city.
A devotee of Rabbi Yosef Shalom
Eliashev, head of the Council of Torah
Sages, Lupoliansky said he intends to