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Israeli Death Squads Kill Palestinians
Published on Thursday, August 30, 2001 by United Press International
Israeli Death Squads Kill Palestinians
by Joshua Brilliant
JERUSALEM, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- Israeli security authorities said Wednesday they believe one or two squads of Israeli militants have killed five Palestinians in drive-by attacks in the West Bank in recent months.

"We aren't seeing any beginning of an underground, but a squad or two definitely carried out four attacks," a senior security source told United Press International on condition of anonymity.

The latest incident occurred early Wednesday when three Palestinians -- a father and his two sons -- were traveling by car from Hizmeh near Jerusalem toward the Jordan Valley.

"Apparently a car passed them and (someone in it) fired on it," Superintendent Rafi Yaffe of the Israeli police in the West Bank said. The driver, Hader Kanan, 26, of Hizmeh, was killed. His father and brother were injured.

The commander of the Israeli police in the West Bank, Brig. Gen. Shahar Ayalon, said the car bore Palestinian license plates. "It was difficult to make a mistake about its identity," he said.

The Palestinian Authority claims several groups of Jewish militias and death squads are very active in the West Bank, especially in Hebron, Jerusalem and Ramallah. The PA says it has warned the Israeli government several times that the groups carry out daily attacks on Palestinians and their property in the West Bank and Gaza.

A group calling itself the Committee to Secure Roads claimed responsibility three months ago for killing four family members from Hebron, among them a four-month old baby boy. After Wednesday's shooting, the group contacted several foreign reporters claiming responsibility for the attack.

Palestinian security officials said they gave U.S. and Israeli officials a list of 60 people who are alleged members of an Israeli terrorist group responsible for murdering Palestinian citizens in Gaza and the West Bank in the last few years.

In earlier attacks on Palestinian motorists, a truck driver was shot and killed by unknown assailants in June. Three members of one family were killed in the southern West Bank in July, and recently a taxi driver was killed south of Nablus by a stone thrown at him from a passing car.

The Palestinian security source told UPI the attackers probably belong to "a very small squad."

"The modus operandi was quite similar in all incidents," he said, and evidence at the scene of the killings shows a connection, though some elements of the killings differ leading security officials to believe there are multiple Israeli hit squads.

The source suggested settlers might be behind the attacks. "It is someone who lives in the area who (would also have) the motive," he said.

The settlers' leaders have strongly condemned the assassinations. "Murder is murder and innocent people must not be hit be they Jews or Arabs," a leader said in a recent statement.

Police, the army and the Israel Security Agency have no clue as to who has been behind the attacks, but the security source told UPI: "It's a question of time until they make a mistake and when they do, we'll be there to discover it."

(with reporting by Saud Abu Ramadan in Gaza)

Copyright 2001 by United Press International


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