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PA FM says no evidence of Palestinian involved in killings
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
03/13/2011
Senior Hamas operative released from Hebron prison hours after attack on sleeping Itamar family.
 
The Palestinian Authority said on Saturday that there was no evidence of Palestinian involvement in the terror attack at Itamar, near Nablus.

PA Foreign Minister Riad al- Malki said his ministry condemned “any act that targets civilians, regardless of their identity.”

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He said the ministry condemns the killing of Israelis by “people whose identity remains unknown.”

Malki pointed out that Itamar was built on lands belonging to Nablus.

“The killing of an infant and the slaughtering of people in this way was never carried out by any Palestinians for national motives or revenge,” he added. “This puts a question mark over the swift accusation made by the Israeli side – to the effect that Palestinians had carried out the attack.”

The PA foreign minister said the attack does not benefit the Palestinian national struggle or the “resistance.” Such attacks, he stressed, are also harmful to the Palestinians’ political and diplomatic efforts in the international arena.

In response to the Itamar attack, PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said he “categorically” rejected violence and had long condemned it.

“We reject this violence and condemn it as we have repeatedly rejected it against our people,” Fayyad told reporters in Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, yesterday.

He added that violence did not justify violence “and we reject it regardless of the reasons and goals and the identity of the perpetrators or victims.”

PA officials in Ramallah expressed skepticism over a statement released by Fatah’s militia, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, in which it claimed responsibility for the killings.

The statement said the “heroic” operation was a “natural response to massacres committed by the occupation against our people in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.” It added that the perpetrator managed to return safely to his base.

The officials said there was a possibility the attack had been carried out by members of Hamas or the Islamic Jihad in the West Bank. Hamas hailed the attack as a “heroic operation” and “natural response to Israeli crimes and massacres.”

In Rafah, some Palestinians took to the streets to celebrate the killings, and handed sweets to passersby and drivers, eyewitnesses reported.

Hours after the attack, PA security services released a senior Hamas operative who had been held in a Palestinian prison for four months. The man, Wajdi Abdel Rahim Taha, was released because he had gone on a hunger strike and there was fear for his life, a PA security source said – adding that Taha had not been involved in violence.

“He’s a political activist,” the source said. “He has been detained for questioning several times in the past. Before that he was in an Israeli jail.”
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