Troops catch suicide bomber's relatives

FM Shalom: There won't be another Operation Defensive Shield.

mofaz .298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
mofaz .298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The IDF overnight Monday arrested the brother and father of the suicide bomber responsible for the attack in Netanya earlier in the day. The two were caught in the West Bank village of Ilar, along with another six fugitives. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Tuesday that "Israel was not planning another widescope military operation like Defensive Shield." Shalom added that he intended to lead a significant diplomatic operation in order to influence the US and Europe to pressure the Palestinian Authority. His remarks were made during a meeting with the US ambassador to Israel, Richard Jones, Army Radio reported. Security forces, meanwhile, are gearing up to deliver a devastating blow to the Islamic Jihad terror cells, again, only this time they pack in their arsenal a green light for targeted killings and possibly house demolitions. The intensified crackdown is focused on northern Samaria, the remnants of whose Islamic Jihad cells proved Monday that even after their commanders and ringleaders are captured, they are capable of striking. The expected retaliation is similar to that which followed the suicide bombing in Hadera last October, a severe crackdown on cells in Tulkarm, Jenin and Kabatiya. This time, orders have been given to also target Islamic Jihad terrorists in the Gaza Strip, where they have been behind the continuing fire of Kassam rockets and mortar shells into Israel. Reinforced IDF units are expected to reoccupy villages in which Islamic Jihad terrorists are hiding. The army will also severely restrict travel in the West Bank, and Israel has clamped a nearly complete closure on the territories. Only the Karni merchandise crossing remained opened. Patrols will also be beefed up along the seam line and security fence to halt infiltrations. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz issued the instructions following a situation assessment with top IDF and Shin Bet commanders in Tel Aviv. Mofaz said he would seek permission from Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz to resume demolishing the houses of terrorists as a deterrent. "This is a necessary step so that everyone who even considers committing suicide knows there is a price for that," he told Army Radio. He added that the defense establishment had changed its mind regarding the deterrent effect of house demolitions and that they were now considered effective. "The infrastructure of Islamic Jihad, which is a tiny organization but very extremist, isn't loath to use any means to carry out its violent terror. I think that we need to operate with all of our channels to deter and to foil," Mofaz said. "One of these channels is to demolish the houses of terrorists." On Sunday, Mofaz had ordered targeted killings resumed after an increase in Kassam and mortar attacks from the Gaza Strip. In light of this, and especially after the suicide bombing, terrorists across the territories have gone underground. "It's not like there is [a targeted killing] sitting on the shelf and we just carry it out. It has to be planned and requires the proper intelligence. That takes time," said one defense official. The deaths brought to 40 the number of Israelis killed in terrorist attacks so far this year. Half of those were from four suicide bombings carried out by Islamic Jihad in Hadera, Netanya and Tel Aviv's Stage nightclub. They were all planned and executed by cells in northern Samaria. Defense officials said that they had an unspecified warning of an attack. In the past few months at least 10 Islamic Jihad terrorists have been killed and scores arrested. The most senior was Louai Sa'adi, its head in Tulkarm, who was killed in a shoot-out with troops on an arrest raid in October. Sa'adi was the mastermind behind the February bombing of the Stage nightclub. In fact, the arrest on November 24 of Iyad Mahmoud Abu al-Roub, 31, head of Islamic Jihad in the Jenin district, was part of that crackdown. Al-Roub was said to have been responsible for the Hadera bombing, which killed six. He is also reportedly credited with Monday's bombing. Last Wednesday, security forces arrested Ashraf Hosni Awaidhat near Jenin. He was one of al-Roub's lieutenants and recruited suicide bombers and helped plan attacks. Islamic Jihad, which is directed from Damascus and influenced by Iran, has nothing to lose in its persistent terrorist war. It is not participating in the PA elections and has never adhered to any formal or informal cease-fire, as have Fatah and Hamas.