9 killed in suicide bombing, Israeli missile strike
* Islamic Jihad leader among dead
* Israeli tanks roll into Gaza camp
PETAH TIKVA: A Palestinian suicide bomber killed three people at a bus stop near Tel Aviv on Thursday minutes after Israeli helicopters killed a top Islamic militant and at least four people in Gaza.
“The militant Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility. Israel’s police chief said the bomber killed three other people and wounded 16 in the blast at the bus stop near Petah Tikva, on a highway leading out of Israel’s coastal metropolis of Tel Aviv.
“A suicide bomber came to the bus stop and blew himself up,” Shlomo Aharonishky told reporters at the scene. Medics said earlier that Meqled Hamid of Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian militant group spearheading suicide attacks on Israelis, was killed along with at least four others — two of them militants — in an Israeli missile strike on a car in Gaza City. .
Thirteen other people were wounded, four of them seriously, in the attack on Moqled Hamid in the first targeted killing by the Israeli military in months.Israel’s Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz said Hamid had been planning a massive attack in the Gaza Strip. “We have hit one of the leaders of Islamic Jihad who was planning the execution of a massive attack in Gaza,” said Mofaz.
Although Israel had not carried out any targeted killings for several months, it has consistently said it retains the right to target what it terms as “ticking bombs”. Army spokesman Captain Jacob Dallal said Hamid was regarded as the head of military operations for Islamic Jihad in Gaza. “He was classified by us as a ticking bomb; he was planning a very serious terror attack that would have claimed many Israeli lives,” he told AFP.
Hundreds of Islamic Jihad fighters, who came to the mortuary in mourning for their top military commander, fired guns in the air and yelled “Allahu Akbar” (God is greater) as news broke of the explosion near Tel Aviv. “God has taken revenge,” they shouted.
Israel imposed Thursday evening a “total closure” on the Palestinian territories following the suicide attack, the defence ministry said. “Mofaz has issued a new order this evening for a total closure of the territories of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and Gaza Strip,” a spokesman told AFP. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said the killings would merely add new hurdles to the peace process.
Meanwhile, Dozens of Israelis jeeps rolled into the Balata refugee camp Friday, at the entrance of this northern West Bank city, clamping a curfew on its inhabitants, Palestinian security sources said
Israeli soldiers on Friday shot and wounded an Israeli and an American who were among protesters trying to breach a controversial barrier Israel is building in the West Bank, witnesses said. —Agencies