Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - Israel, responding to a number of deadly terror attacks in recent days, fired missiles into a Hamas headquarters on Tuesday in the Gaza Strip, killing three Palestinians.
Six other Palestinians reportedly were killed in Israeli retaliatory actions, which began overnight and continued Tuesday.
But a high-level Israeli official said on Tuesday that Israel is walking a fine line in its response to escalating terror attacks to prevent a Kosovo-type deterioration, which is exactly what Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat wants to happen.
"This is not a war that is won by encircling Egyptian tanks in six days," said the official, in reference to Israel's speedy victory over several Arab nations in the 1967 Six-Day war. It will take much longer, said the official, who asked not to be named.
"Arafat wants Israel to lose control and use excessive force," he said. Then the international community would insist on sending international observers and the situation would be turned into another Kosovo, he said.
"If you use too much [force] you lose, if you use too little you lose," he added. And if it takes too long the citizens will lose patience, he said.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said on Monday that he does not intend to destroy the PA.
"I have no intention of dismantling the PA," Sharon said at a meeting of his Likud party lawmakers. "But I do intend to deliver a strong blow to the terrorist organizations, with the hope that one day, there will be someone to talk to."
Arafat told thousands of Palestinian school children and teachers visiting him in Ramallah on Monday that the Palestinian people are not afraid of Israel's tanks and fighter planes.
"I also tell them that our Palestinian people would never care about their tanks [or] their warplanes," Arafat said, giving the victory sign before the children.
Arafat later told reporters that the Palestinians would continue to march toward Jerusalem, what he called, "the capital of the independent Palestinian state," said WAFA, the official PA news agency.
An Israeli couple was wounded in a drive-by shooting attack on their vehicle on Tuesday. Four Israelis were killed in two separate suicide attacks just hours apart on Monday evening. Nine Palestinians were killed in retaliatory military strikes.
A loan gunman apparently made his way to a strategic intersection in the Gaza Strip and opened fire on cars traveling along the road, mortally wounding Ahuva Amergi and injuring another driver.
Amergi, 30, a lawyer and mother of two young sons, was talking on the telephone with her sister Sarah Svike at the time she was shot. The two sisters were talking about Amergi's plans to build a house, Svike said.
"In the midst of this, suddenly, I heard a burst of gunfire," Svike said in a radio interview. "I called to her and [begged] her to answer me... She didn't answer me... I heard only breathing. I knew I didn't have anyone to speak with."
Svike said she hung up the phone and called Amergi's husband and told him to go and search for his wife because something had happened to her, and then she called the army. "I knew already there wasn't anything to do... I couldn't help her. Everything I could, I did," she said.
Maj. Mor Yehuda Elraz, 25, and St-Sergeant Amir Mansouri, 21, were killed by the gunman when they responded to the shooting attack. The terrorist, identified as Muhammad al-Kasir, 19, was shot dead by other troops.
Just two hours earlier, policeman Ahmed Mazarib, was killed when he and his partner stopped a suspicious looking car on its way to Jerusalem. Mazarib's partner Ahmed Rahal was checking to see if the car was stolen, when the terrorist detonated a bomb in the car killing himself and Mazarib.
Regional police chief Shahar Ayalon praised Mazarib posthumously, for having "prevented with his own body a terrorist attack."
Mazarib, 32, a Bedouin and father of three young daughters, was related to one of three soldiers killed last month by Palestinian terrorists who infiltrated an army base on the border with the Gaza Strip.
Yasser Odeh, 32, from a village south of Bethlehem, was named as the car bomber. The Aksa Brigades of Arafat's Fatah faction claimed responsibility for both attacks.
The Israeli F-16s and tanks carried out several retaliatory strikes against various Palestinian targets overnight, which continued on Tuesday.
Two Hamas militants and a little girl were reportedly killed in a helicopter missile strike on a Hamas headquarters in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, Palestinian sources were quoted as saying.
"Israel struck a Hamas headquarters in Jabalyia [refugee camp] in response to the many terrorist attacks in recent days," the army spokesman said.
Earlier five Palestinians were reported killed, including a 14-year-old girl and her mother, in two separate Israeli military operations.
Three of the Palestinians died in their homes in the Gaza Strip from Israeli tank fire, Palestinians sources reported. Two others died in clashes with Israeli troops in the West Bank.
A Palestinian terrorist was also killed when he tried to infiltrate into the Gaza Strip settlement of Morag.
E-mail a news tip to Julie Stahl.
Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.