Aksa Martyrs Brigades: Truce over

Group claims responsibility for shooting attack on IDF soldiers near Ramallah.

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August 21, 2007 22:29
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Less than 24 hours after it announced that it would not honor understandings with Israel, Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, claimed responsibility for a shooting attack on IDF soldiers near Ramallah. The IDF confirmed that soldiers had come under fire during a military operation in the Ramallah area early Wednesday morning. No one was woundedt and no damage to IDF property was reported. Also Wednesday, IDF troops shot and killed a senior Hamas operative and wounded three after the group suspiciously approached the Gaza security fence. The death brought the number of Palestinians killed in Gaza since Monday to 13. Defense sources said that the military would continue to crack down on Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip and would strike at anyone involved in attacks against IDF troops or communities in the Negev. Also Wednesday, The Navy detained eight Palestinian fishermen off the Rafah coast after they crossed in from Egyptian waters. Four naval ships arrived at the scene accompanied by IAF helicopters. Seven fishing boats fishing boats were destroyed by the army, said Palestinians. Wednesday's shooting attack near Ramallah was not the first time that Fatah gunmen in the West Bank have opened fire at IDF soldiers since the understandings were reached between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Under the terms of the deal, hundreds of Fatah gunmen would be removed from Israel's list of wanted terrorists after they hand over their weapons to the PA security forces and pledge to refrain from involvement in terror-related activities. But the Aksa Martyrs Brigades announced on Tuesday that its members would not honor the understandings because of the arrest by the IDF of two Fatah fugitives who had been granted amnesty. The two were arrested earlier this week at an IDF checkpoint on suspicion of involvement in terror activities, despite the amnesty. A statement issued Wednesday by the Al-Buraq Army, one of the branches of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, said members of the group opened fire at IDF soldiers in the village of Sinjil east of Ramallah. "Our warriors were engaged in an armed battle with the soldiers in the Israeli military patrol," the statement said. "We managed to inflict direct casualties among the soldiers and our men returned to their bases safely." The Fatah group threatened to launch more attacks against Israel in retaliation for the "assassinations and detentions carried out by the Israeli occupation forces against our people." The group is named after the white horse that carried Prophet Muhammed from earth to heaven and back during the Isra and Miraj [Night Journey]. Fatah officials said the group has been operating in the West Bank for the past year and that most of its members are also known as supporters of Islamic Jihad. In recent weeks the Al-Buraq Army and Islamic Jihad jointly claimed responsibility for a series of attacks on the IDF and Israeli settlers. The officials pointed out that despite the amnesty deal with Israel, dozens of Fatah gunmen were refusing to surrender their weapons for fear that they would be targeted by Israel. Others have demanded senior jobs in the PA security forces in the West Bank as a precondition for halting their terror activities. In yet another sign that the Fatah gunmen were on their way to resuming their attacks, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades in the Gaza Strip announced that it had begun a "military operation" to fire hundreds of rockets and mortars at Israeli cities. The group said it would use hundreds of developed rockets called Al Aksa 103 and dozens of mortars during the offensive, which has been named "Hole in the Wall 2." It added that the attacks were in retaliation against the recent IDF military operations in the Gaza Strip, where 13 Palestinians have been killed in the past three days.


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