israel strikes back

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    Israel destroys suicide bomber's home
    November 2, 2004 - 8:50PM

    Israeli troops have destroyed the homes of a teen suicide bomber and two men who had dispatched him to a crowded Tel Aviv outdoor market where he killed three Israelis and wounded 32.

    The relatively muted response came after Israel pledged to show restraint in the wake of Yasser Arafat's illness.

    The usual signs of an imminent Israeli military counterstrike were absent this time - the hurried high-level security meetings and troop movements - and it appeared that Israel would not hit back as it has in the past.

    Troops razed the home of the bomber, 16-year-old Eli Amer Alfar, and damaged four neighbouring houses in the crowded Askar refugee camp near Nablus, witnesses said.

    Alfar's family of 12 had already removed belongings, knowing that Israel routinely destroys the homes of those involved in attacks against Israelis as a deterrent.

    The army also destroyed the homes of two senior members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The military said they dispatched the bomber. The radical PLO faction claimed responsibility for the blast.

    Also in Nablus, Israeli undercover troops killed three Palestinian militants affiliated with Arafat's Fatah movement in a gunbattle in the Casbah, the city's crowded centre.

    Witnesses said some of the soldiers disguised themselves in the head-to-toe coverings of Muslim women and carried trays of sweets as they approached the militants sitting in a coffee shop.

    Palestinian witnesses said the soldiers opened fire without warning, killing two wanted men. The army said the fugitives had drawn pistols before they were shot.

    Three other militants joined in the battle and the army brought in reinforcements, killing a third gunman. Also, one man was seriously wounded and a fifth escaped, the army said. The troops later raided a Red Crescent clinic looking for the wounded man but failed to find him, witnesses said.

    Military officials said the target of the raid was Majdi Murai, a leader of the Al Aqsa Martyr's Brigades, a violent group with ties to Arafat's Fatah movement. Murai was responsible for recruiting a number of teenage boys for suicide attacks.

    Murai survived an attempt on his life last month.

    Frustrated by Israeli security measures that have greatly reduced their effectiveness, militant groups have turned to using teenagers and women to transport explosives and carry out attacks, hoping they would raise less suspicion at the dozens of Israeli checkpoints designed to capture bombers.

    The Tel Aviv bomber was only 16 years old, one of the youngest Palestinian suicide bombers, and his parents lashed out at the militants who recruited him.

    "It's immoral to send someone so young," said Samir Abdullah, 45, Alfar's mother. "They should have sent an adult who understands the meaning of his deeds."

    The bombing was the 117th suicide bombing since the outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian fighting in 2000 and was the first since Arafat left for France last week. In all, 494 Israelis have been killed in the attacks.

    Arafat condemned the bombing from his hospital outside Paris, and Palestinian leaders in the West Bank joined in, but the bombing undermined their efforts to show that despite the absence of their longtime leader, everything is under control.

    "(Arafat) appealed to all Palestinian factions to commit to avoid harming all Israeli civilians and he appealed to Sharon to take similar initiatives to avoid harming Palestinian civilians," Arafat's spokesman Nabil Abu Rdeneh said in France.

    He was flown to France last week, suffering from an undisclosed ailment that left him in serious condition. Doctors there have not yet announced results of medical tests.

    (What did the suicide bomber achieve?death for his family. A true hero?)
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