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April 11, 2003

After weeks of relative quiet, Israeli-Palestinian violence surges

This is how to convince President Bush that the Palestinians are ready for statehood!
Israeli-Palestinian violence is surging again as President Bush continues to signal his determination to press ahead with the diplomatic “road map” toward Israeli-Palestinian peace.
At least seven Palestinians and two Israelis were killed in clashes this week.

Following a period of relative quiet during the early weeks of the war in Iraq, two Israeli soldiers were killed and nine others wounded Thursday when two Palestinian gunmen near an army base in the northern West Bank. The gunmen cut through the fence surrounding the base and opened fire.

One of the terrorists was killed in the ensuing exchange of fire with forces. The other was killed following a chase.

The two soldiers killed were Staff Sgt. Yigal Lifshitz, 20, from Rishon le-Zion, and Staff Sgt. Ofer Sharabi, 21, from Givat Shmuel.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian claimed responsibility for what it said was a joint attack with the Al-Aksa Brigade, an offshoot of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat’s Fatah faction. The two gunmen were identified as Nablus residents.

Also Thursday, Palestinians said an armed gunman was killed and four were wounded by Israeli undercover forces in the West Bank town of Tulkarm.

Several hours after the Tulkarm attack, a senior Islamic Jihad militant was killed in an Israeli helicopter strike in the Gaza Strip. At least 10 other people were injured.

The Islamic Jihad militant was identified as Mahmoud Zatme, wanted by Israel for involvement in several terrorist attacks, including a 1995 double-suicide bombing in Beit Lid that killed 22 Israeli soldiers and civilians.

On Tuesday, a senior Hamas militant wanted by Israel, Saed Arbid, was killed in a similar Israeli missile strike in the Gaza Strip. Also killed was an Arbid aide and three other people. The strike also injured dozens of bystanders.

The increased violence came as President Bush reiterated his determination this week to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. At a joint news conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Bush stressed his plans to publish the road map once the new Palestinian Authority prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, presents his new Cabinet. [more]