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September 29, 2005 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-09-29

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NEWS

The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 29, 2005 - 9A

Israel fires artillery on
militants in Gaza Strip

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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Wid-
ening its five-day campaign against Pal-
estinian militants, Israel for the first time
fired artillery shells into the Gaza Strip
yesterday and shut down 15 West Bank
offices suspected of distributing money
to families of suicide bombers from the
Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups.
Israeli aircraft also fired missiles at sev-
eral Gaza targets, knocking out power in
Gaza City for most of the night, damag-
ing several buildings and destroying an
overpass, but there were no injuries. In
the West Bank, Israel rounded up 24 sus-
pected militants, bringing the number of
people arrested since the weekend to more
than 400.
A senior Israeli army commander did
not rule out shelling Gaza towns.
"We will warn the population, make
sure that they leave the area, while we tar-
get the sources of rocket fire," said Maj.
Gen. Israel Ziv, the army chief of opera-
tions.
In other developments, a meeting
between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon and Palestinian leader Mahmoud
Abbas, tentatively set for Sunday, was post-
poned, apparently because of the flare-up.
A Sharon adviser and an Israeli Cabinet
minister said yesterday that Israel could
withdraw from some parts of the West
Bank and annex others to its territory if
peace efforts remain bogged down.
The comments by adviser Eyal Arad
and Cabinet Minister Tzahi Hanegbi on
Israel Army Radio marked the first time
Sharon confidants talked in public about
the idea of additional unilateral moves by
Israel after the Gaza pullout in September.
Sharon's office said Israel remains com-
mitted to a negotiated deal with the Pal-
estinians.
The Israeli strikes were triggered by
weekend rocket fire from Gaza at Israeli
border towns. Since then, Hamas and
Islamic Jihad have announced they would
halt attacks, but Israel said it would press
ahead with the campaign, including tar-
geted killings of militant leaders.
On Tuesday, Israeli Defense Minister
Shaul Mofaz threatened Hamas leaders
Mahmoud Zahar and Ismail Hanieh by
name, saying they could be the next tar-
gets.
Israel says the strong reaction is neces-
sary to show that new rules are in place
following its withdrawal from Gaza after
a 38-year occupation and that attacks from
the area will not be tolerated.
"Terrorism must be rooted out," Vice

Palestinian schoolgirls walk past the collapsed roof of the destroyed Akram
School after it was hit in an Israeli missile strike In Gaza City early Sunday.

Premier Shimon Peres told Israel Radio on
yesterday.
Israel also appears to be seizing an
opportunity to deliver a major blow to
Hamas, which had been largely off-lim-
its after it agreed in February to abide by
an informal truce. Israel has repeatedly
demanded that Abbas disarm Hamas, but
Abbas has chosen to co-opt the militants
instead.
Hamas commentator Ghazi Hamad said
that "Israel could weaken Hamas, but not
destroy it." The group, which opposes the
existence of Israel, has killed hundreds of
Israelis in attacks since violence resumed.
"Hamas now is a political movement,
it's a culture, with individuals, institutions,
schools, universities and a huge military
wing," said Hamad, editor-in-chief of the
Hamas weekly, The Message, which is
published in Gaza.
Hamas charged that Israel also is trying
to weaken the group politically before Pal-
estinian parliamentary elections in Janu-
ary. Among those rounded up in recent
days were dozens of Hamas candidates for

parliament and local councils.
Hamas is expected to make a strong
showing in the parliament vote and in a
new round of local elections to be held in
more than 100 towns and villages today.
Abbas said Hamas was partly to blame
for the latest violence.
He said the militant group aggravated
the situation in Gaza when it insisted on
celebrating the Israeli pullout tomorrow
and later refused to admit that an explosion
during that celebration was caused by one
of the group's cars and not by Israel.
"Brothers in Hamas refused this talk and
started .firing missiles on the Israelis that
made them say they did not have a partner
in the peace process and started random
attacks and bombing that destroyed many
areas," Abbas told Arab League represen-
tatives.
Abbas said Hamas has the right to retal-
iate, but added: "We agreed in Cairo on a
collective truce and the retaliation, there-
fore, should be collective, too, because this
is an Israeli carnage, the result of which
must be shared by all parties."

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