ISRAELI teen-ager killed in shooting, Israeli tanks shell Palestinian police posts

Friday, July 27th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

JERUSALEM (AP) _ Israeli tanks shelled Palestinian police posts in the West Bank early Friday, after Palestinians shot and killed an Israeli teen-ager near a Jewish settlement.

Palestinians opened fire near the entrance of the Givat Zeev settlement, north of Jerusalem, killing a 17-year-old, identified as Ronen Landau.

In response, Israeli tanks shelled two Palestinian police posts in Surda, north of the town of Ramallah, the Palestinian political and commercial center in the West Bank.

Then tanks targeted a checkpoint run by Force 17, an elite Palestinian police unit, in Beitunia, east of Ramallah, the military said. No serious injuries were reported.

An eyewitness to the Thursday attack, Dekel Cohen, told Israel television that he heard gunshots and saw an Israeli car swerve onto the sidewalk.

``People took someone out and started to treat him. Then an ambulance came,'' he said. Cohen said he heard more gunshots a few seconds later.

Cabinet minister Dan Naveh said he was driving on the same highway shortly before the shooting. ``Here we have another murderous attack,'' he told Israel television. ``This shows (Palestinian leader Yasser) Arafat's true face as a terrorist.''

Israel charges that Arafat has not taken steps to stop militants from attacking Israel, and that officers in Arafat's police are directly involved in some of the attacks. Several months ago Israeli security arrested members of Force 17 and said they were suspected of firing at Israeli vehicles on the road where Thursday's took place.

David Baker, a spokesman in the Israeli prime minister's office, said the attack showed that ``the Palestinians have decided to continue with this trail of terror directed at Israel.''

After the shooting attack late Thursday, Jewish settlers council called for an end to the ``imaginary and bleeding'' cease-fire, a reference to a truce negotiated last month by CIA director George Tenet. The truce never fully took hold.

A poll in the Maariv daily showed that 46 percent of Israelis favor large-scale retaliation against the Palestinians, including attacks on leaders and infrastructure, while 30 percent favor the current policy. The poll questioned 600 Israelis and quoted a 4.5 percent margin of error.

Since fighting began on Sept. 28, 533 people have been killed on the Palestinian side and 133 on the Israeli side.

Earlier Thursday, three bombs exploded near Israeli vehicles in the northern part of the West Bank. No one was hurt.

One bomb went off next to a bus carrying Israeli girls home from school, settlers said. The bus had armor plating, preventing injuries.

Two other bombs were set off near Israeli army vehicles, the military said. The vehicles were damaged.

Earlier, thousands of Palestinians called for revenge against Israel as they accompanied the body of a senior Hamas activist in a noisy funeral procession in the West Bank city of Nablus. The militant, Saleh Darwazeh, was killed Wednesday when Israeli forces hit his car with five anti-tank missiles.

Threatening to send suicide bombers into Israel, the crowd chanted, ``There are hundreds more, there are a million'' more bombers.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres warned that two or three more suicide bombings could trigger a response that could bring about the collapse of Arafat's Palestinian Authority, a development Peres strongly opposes.

Following bomb attacks, there are loud demands from Israelis for a full-scale military operation against the Palestinians in response. Some hard-liners call for Arafat's expulsion.

So far Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, whose base of political support comes from the hard-liners, has resisted the pressure, opting instead for a policy of avoiding large-scale military moves but allowing smaller operations, like targeted killing of militants.