Israel Readying For Response To Kibbutz Terror Attack

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:12 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - Israeli troops and tanks rolled into the West Bank Tulkarem refugee camp early Tuesday, apparently in response to a terrorist attack in a northern Israel community in which five Israelis were killed, including a mother and her two young boys.

Following the attack on Kibbutz Metzer, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz visited the community, which is very close to the West Bank. Sharon rarely visits the site of terror attacks at the time they occur.

Israel now intends to launch a wide-scale operation in and around Nablus and Tulkarem in an attempt to destroy the Fatah Tanzim terrorist infrastructure, according security sources quoted in the media here.

Sharon, Mofaz and senior army officials discussed the military operation in a school during their visit to Kibbutz Metzer and gave the go-ahead for the operation.

Israel reportedly has ruled out the idea of expelling Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat for the present. Arafat's headquarters have sometimes been the target of retaliation following previous large terror attacks.

Foreign Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said he favors expelling Arafat at the "right time." As former chief of staff, Mofaz also wanted to kick out Arafat. Sharon has said in the past that he should have gotten rid of Arafat a long time ago, but he has promised President Bush that he will not touch Arafat.

North of Tulkarem, Israeli forces destroyed the home of Muhammad Naifa on Tuesday.

Naifa, a high-level Fatah militant, is accused of being responsible for recruiting and sending the terrorist who carried out the shooting attack in Kibbutz Metzer late on Sunday, an army spokesman said. He is still at large.

The Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade, linked to Arafat's Fatah faction, claimed responsibility for the attack inside Israel proper, saying it was in retaliation for Israel's killing of Iyad Sawalha, a senior Islamic Jihad military commander in the West Bank.

Israel accused Sawalha of direct responsibility for the murder of 31 Israeli civilians and soldiers. He was killed in a battle with Israeli Special forces on Saturday after he threw grenades at the troops who had come to his house to arrest him.

The attack on the kibbutz came just a few hours after two Palestinians blew up in a car nearby after they were asked to stop by border policemen. At least one of the Palestinians was apparently wearing a bomb belt on the way to carry out a suicide attack.

Revital Ohayoun, 34, and her two sons, Noam, 4, and Matan, 5, killed in the boys' bedroom of their home on Kibbutz Metzer, were buried on Tuesday.

Revital was talking to the boys' father, her ex-husband on the telephone at the time of the attack.

Avi Ohayoun, who works for Channel 2 television, heard his sons screaming in the background before the phone went dead, he said in media interviews. He described how his son Noam could only go to sleep if he had one pacifier in his mouth and another one in his hand.

"How can a man - if you can call him a man - shoot a boy with two pacifiers and kill him?" he asked. " Three entire worlds have disappeared. They loved life so much."

In Gaza a two-year-old Palestinian boy was killed on Monday, while playing outside his home. Palestinians said Israeli soldiers fired from a nearby watchtower.

The Israeli army said that it had returned fire toward Palestinian gunmen who had fired first and was not aware that anyone had been wounded or killed.

Israel has accused the Palestinians of using their own people as human shields.

According to a recent article in the Palestinian newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Yadida, Palestinian civilians in Gaza recently met with the militant leadership and asked them to stop shooting from within the civilian population.