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>PD OCTOBER 17, 1994 V2, #189

Palestinians Clash with IDF on West Bank

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

Supporters of the radical Palestinian group Hamas demonstrated over the weekend in Gaza and clashed with Israeli troops on the West Bank. The demonstrators were angry about Israel's attack on Hamas kidnappers Friday night and the Palestinian Autonomy Authority's effort to help Israel solve the kidnapping.

Several thousand Hamas supporters marched to the central jail in autonomous Gaza on Saturday, demanding that the Palestinian Authority release at least 200 radicals arrested in the search for kidnapped Israeli soldier Nachshon Waxman.

Hamas kidnappers killed the 19-year-old soldier as Israeli commandos stormed their hideout Friday night. Hamas issued a defiant statement on Saturday, accusing Israel of negotiating in bad faith on plans for a prisoner exchange. The group also threatens more kidnappings unless Israel releases about 200 Hamas members it is holding, including the group's founder.

On the West Bank, where Corporal Waxman was held and killed, Hamas called a general strike, which was widely observed. Hamas supporters threw stones at Israeli soldiers in the town of Nablus. The soldiers fired at the stone throwers, wounding three of them.

On Friday, Israeli commandos had snuck up on the house where the soldier, Corporal Nachshon Waxman, was being held. But they were delayed by locked and reinforced doors -- delays which proved fatal for the 19-year-old soldier.

Many Israelis were asking whether the raid should have been tried, especially since there were only a few hours to prepare and it seemed that negotiations for a prisoner exchange might succeed. Officials said they could not give in to the terrorist demands if there was any possibility to defeat them militarily.

Hamas Lair Stormed; Kidnappers Kill Israeli Soldier

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

An Israeli rescue attempt went horribly wrong Friday night, when troops raided the hideout where radical Palestinians were holding a kidnapped Israeli soldier. The soldier was killed in the raid, as were three of his captors and another Israeli soldier.

Under cover of darkness, Israeli troops stormed a house in a West Bank village along Jerusalem's northern border, not far from the home of the kidnapped soldier.

When the gun battle was over, the 19-year-old army corporal was among the dead, as were three of his guards from the radical Palestinian group Hamas. Another was arrested. One of the attacking Israeli soldiers also died and nine of them were wounded. Israel says Waxman, who was tied hand and foot, was shot twice by his captors as the attack began.

Just about an hour before news of the shootout broke, Hamas had announced it would extend the deadline for Israel to meet its demand for freedom for its imprisoned founder and some 200 of its members and supporters. Israeli officials indicated they might agree to release the elderly and ailing founder, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. Apparently, even as officials made such statements, the raid had already failed.

Israel has always refused to negotiate with terrorists or to give in to their demands. The initial reports that policy might have changed, even indirectly, surprised many observers. The Israeli rescue attempt was much more in keeping with past Israeli practice in such circumstances.

Friday night, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said that until Friday morning he had believed the kidnapped soldier was in autonomous Gaza -- where Hamas is based -- and he was considering some sort of indirect exchange. But he said that when he learned Waxman was being held in Israeli-controlled territory he decided on the military action. Rabin said Israel must continue to fight terrorism, but he remains committed to his peace accord with Yasir Arafat's Palestinian Autonomy Authority -- which radical groups such as Hamas oppose. At the same time, Rabin again indicated that autonomous Palestinian areas can not be used as a base for terrorism.

Also on Friday, Waxman's mother had gone on television to appeal again for her son's safe return. She asked for prayers and urged him to be strong and brave. As it turned out, Waxman was being held, and eventually died, less than one mile from his home.

Waxman was shot in the back of the head, neck, and chest by Hamas terrorists as the Israeli army attempted to rescue him by raiding the house in which he was being held captive. The officer leading the attack was also killed. At least nine other soldiers were also injured.

Prime Minister and Defense Minister Rabin are under fierce attack by many people in Israel -- as it appears as if the raid was poorly planned. The entry into the house -- which was supposed to take seconds, took minutes, and cost Waxman and the officer their lives.

Hamas has protested the "killing of the innocent" terrorists who were holding Waxman. Hamas held riots and strikes throughout the West Bank. In addition, they have threatened to burn down the entire Gaza Strip and make it into a 'Hellish Inferno' if Israel does not free 300 Hamas-supporting murderers from its prisons. In addition, they demanded that the PLO free all of its Hamas prisoners. The PLO has complied partially and has agreed to free most of the prisoners that Hamas demanded.

Hamas has announced that in addition to burning up the entire Gaza Strip they will kidnap and kill another Israeli soldier in the near future. Yasir Arafat's role in the Waxman case is still not clear. Rabin claims that the PLO did try to find Waxman, however he blames them for allowing the plot to be orchestrated and run from Gaza. There are also reports that PLO members warned Hamas about the Israeli raid on the house in which Waxman was found murdered. All in all, the situation is very tense.

Israel: Peace Talks Will Resume

By Patricia Golan (Jerusalem)

Israel says it will resume peace negotiations with the PLO which were suspended last week after the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier by Muslim militants organization, Hamas. A spokesman for the prime minister's office said the talks on expanding Palestinian self-rule will resume on Tuesday in Cairo. The government also decided to stop sealing off the Gaza Strip.

Israel had called off negotiations on Palestinian elections as well as expanding Palestinian autonomy to the West Bank, at the height of the kidnapping crisis. It demanded that the Palestinian authority, headed by PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat, crack down on the Hamas organization to obtain the soldier's release. The PLO subsequently jailed hundreds of Hamas activists in Gaza.

Since Friday thousands of Hamas supporters have been demonstrating in the Gaza Strip, demanding that the Palestinian authority release the activists they arrested.

But Arafat is said to have decided to put an end to armed opposition within Gaza, ordering the Palestinian security services to identify groups storing weapons and disarm them.

A serious confrontation may be brewing between the PLO-led Palestinian National Authority in the Gaza Strip and Hamas, which opposes the Israeli-PLO peace deal and regards Arafat as a collaborator.

Arafat does not want to outlaw Hamas as a political party. Hamas has wide popular support in the Gaza Strip. The PLO head knows Hamas must be included in future elections -- although Israel is certain to fight this.

Arafat is said to be determined not to allow armed militias to operate inside the Gaza Strip. But many doubt he will be able to disarm them. As one Hamas activist in Gaza interviewed on radio remarked, if the Israelis didn't manage to get our weapons how will Arafat's men?

In the wake of the kidnapping, Israel had sealed off the Gaza Strip, insisting that the soldier was being held there. Although he was ultimately found in the West Bank, Israeli security sources insist the kidnappers received their orders from the Gaza-based Hamas organization. The closure prevented some 30,000 Palestinians from getting to work inside Israel. Israeli opposition members are demanding that before the government lifts the closure on the Gaza Strip, it must first construct a security fence around the entire strip.

Saturday Night at Mount Herzl

By Eli Birnbaum

I took my son to a funeral last night. He's my oldest, and getting ready to join the IDF. We stood shoulder to shoulder with tears running freely. I had my arm around him, trying to convey all my love, trying to give him strength, trying to find an answer.

All around me were young men and women, many not older than my son, holding tightly to one another and crying. Young girls who should have been out on this cool, clear Saturday night were spending it at yet another funeral. This is the second boy from my son's high school to be killed by terrorists. This year he has been to too many funerals of his and our friends and I ask myself how much more can he take? After the service we stood for an hour waiting to put a stone on the fresh grave. As if he read my mind he turned to me and said: "Abba, don't worry. I will come out of this even stronger than before." Around us stood every type of Israeli - religious and secular, black hats and knitted kippot. Maybe that's what I cried for. This week politics evaporated, and every heart and prayer reached out to that one family.

Tomorrow we will be back to normal - but inside something has changed. For those few days when we all held hands and all held our breath, we saw the real greatness of this country that I call home.

My son and I went to a funeral last night. Along with thousands of others we reaffirmed for ourselves the true meaning of Zionism. No matter what the future will bring, we know who we are and why we are here.

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