Israel to retaliate for kibbutz attack

Mother, children killed in kibbutz terror attack

Monday, November 11, 2002 Posted: 7:14 PM EST
 


Israeli brothers Noam, 4, left, and Maton Ohayoun, 5, in a recent family photo.

Palestinians look over the damage after helicopter attacks in Gaza City.
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israel made plans Monday to retaliate for a shooting at a kibbutz that left five people dead, including a mother and her two sons.

The new Israeli defense minister, Shaul Mofaz, met with security officials and then with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to go over Israel's response.

Israeli Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu favors expelling Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, but government spokesman Ra'anan Gissin said Israeli could continue the current government policies, which have included leaving Arafat in Ramallah.

The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the military offshoot of Arafat's Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Behind the scenes, senior Israeli military officials described the Kibbutz Metzer shooting as a turning point.

"Even the Palestinians behave like they understand they've gone one bridge too far," said one senior Israeli military source. "The Al Aqsa say they are sorry; they didn't mean it." 

 "The attack is a clear sign the terrorists do not discriminate who they are killing," the source continued. "There are 6 million targets [the population of Israel].  Israel now has to find the single shooter while they are prepared to kill Israelis everywhere. Fatah are responsible for this terrible attack."

According to Israeli officials, a gunman from Tulkarem slipped under the fence at the kibbutz and shot dead Revital Ohayoun, 34, and her two sons Matan, 5, and Noram, 4.

He also killed Dor Yitzhak, 44, secretary of the kibbutz, and Tirza Damari, 42, of Elchin, before slipping back beneath the fence where a car was waiting to drive him away.

Arafat condemned the killings and said he was setting up a committee to investigate.

The Palestinian information minister, Yasser Abed Rabbo, said the attack was an attempt to disrupt talks between the Palestinians and the peace camp in Israel.

The Israeli daily newspaper Ha'aretz quoted Arafat as saying the attack was an attempt to sabotage talks in Cairo between Fatah and Hamas, said to be discussing Fatah's proposal that suicide attacks in Israel be stopped.

The Israeli military source said Arafat and Fatah talk about stopping attacks but allow them to go forward.

 "The attack in Metzer exposed the double game being played by Fatah. The clear message of the Palestinian Authority -- don't misunderstand us -- publicly we may say reduce violence, but we go on with the operations," the source said.

"This leadership encourages attacks with the latent messages they are sending. ... The ongoing attempt to strengthen the culture of suicide bombing is totally in Arafat's hands."

The official also dismissed the talks in Cairo between Fatah and Hamas leaders.

"In Cairo there is an attempt by Egyptian and European elements to convince the Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to impose on themselves new rules which would lead to steps that legitimize Hamas as a member of the PLO and the Palestinian Authority," the official said.

"In return, the Hamas would accept the supremacy of Fatah in the PLO and the Palestinian Authority.  On the ground the message from Hamas and Fatah is the attacks on Israelis are continuing everywhere."

Hamas, a Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist organization, is labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department.  The group's military wing, Izzedine al Qassam, has admitted responsibility for terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians as well as attacks against the Israeli military

Kibbutz Metzer, a collective village near the pre-1967 border with the West Bank, is close the site of an incident Sunday in which a car exploded when Israeli police ordered it to pull over.

Police said the two people in the car "were evidently two Palestinian suicide bombers." The blast killed only the two suspected terrorists.

Missiles fired in Gaza City

 Hours after the kibbutz shooting, two Israeli Apache helicopters fired on a target in central Gaza City early Monday, Palestinian sources said.

The helicopters fired at least four missiles, apparently targeting a workshop in an area near Palestine Square, in part of the old city, the sources said. The attack began about 1:45 a.m., (6:45 p.m. Sunday ET) they said. 

Arafat condemned that attack as well.

"This is a continuation of the military escalation, of crimes against our cities and villages, our people and holy places," Arafat said. "They [Israelis] believe that the people can give up their hope of an independent state, but this will never happen."

The Israel Defense Forces said the Gaza attack was not in response to the kibbutz shootings, but offered no other details.

In another incident, Palestinian hospital sources said a 2-year-old, one of four children hit by gunfire in a shooting incident Monday, had died.  Three other children, ages 12, 10, and 9, were also injured.

The shootings occurred in Rafah near the Egyptian border, the site of frequent shooting incidents between Israelis and Palestinians.  Details of the incident were unclear.