Qurei's bodyguard killed by IDF

Military: Not first instance that an official in the PA security forces is involved in terrorist activity.

qurei 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
qurei 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
IDF troops operating in Beituniya shot and killed overnight Friday one of former PA prime minister Ahmed Qurei's bodyguards, who appeared on a list of wanted terror suspects. IDF spokesmen said that Muatassem a-Shariff, a Fatah operative and a Presidential Guard member, opened fire at the soldiers who had arrived at his house to arrest him. Security forces said that Shariff was believed to be involved in attacks against Israeli targets and suspected of weapons trafficking, including selling weapons to the Fatah-affiliated Tanzim organization. Palestinian security officials denied the 23-year-old bodyguard fired first. One Palestinian official strongly condemned the killing, saying Israel "proved once again that it does not want stability in the West Bank." Qurei himself condemned the incident, which he said was a deliberate Israeli attempt to hinder progress in the talks. The incident was the first case in several months of a Fatah operative being killed by IDF troops. Recently, the IDF has scaled back operations in the West Bank, and particularly those against Fatah-affiliated targets, as part of measures to reinforce Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's government. Qurei has been serving as the head of the Palestinian negotiation team in the discussions following last month's conference in Annapolis. Hours before Shariff was killed in the gun battle, Qurei was a guest of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as Olmert and Abbas met for the first time since last month's Annapolis conference. The military emphasized that this was not the first time officials in the Palestinian Authority security forces had been involved in terrorist activity. Several weeks ago, just prior to the Annapolis conference, Ido Zoldan was killed by terrorists later revealed to be Palestinian policemen from a force sanctioned by Israel. Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.