No Let-Up Against Terrorists, Israel Says

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:16 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - Amid new threats from terror groups, Israel is refusing to relent in its war against them.

The international community hoped that Israel's unilateral pullout from the Gaza Strip in September would pave the way for a renewal of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. But not even two months after the withdrawal, Palestinian rocket fire, a suicide bombing, Israeli arrests and more targeted killings have dimmed those prospects.

On Wednesday, Hamas claimed responsibility for the shooting death of an Israeli soldier, Sgt. Jonathan Evron, following an Israeli arrest operation near the West Bank city of Jenin.

In a statement, the Izz el-Din Kassam Brigades of Hamas said that "a member of our (Hamas) anti-terror unit managed to kill at least one Zionist soldier."

Israeli forces had completed their sweep when Evron was caught in an ambush.

Israel stepped up its arrest operations in the West Bank following a suicide bombing in the northern Israeli city of Hadera last week.

Brig-Gen. Yair Golan, commander of the Judea and Samaria (West Bank) division, said the arrest operations are part of the effort to destroy the terrorist infrastructure in the northern West Bank.

The terrorists who ambushed Evron were well-trained as evidenced by the fact that they were operating in an area that was right under soldiers' noses, Golan said.

In the Gaza Strip, meanwhile, Palestinians fired a Kassam rocket, which landed in southern Israel.

Targeted attack

In a move that brought new threats from terror groups, Israeli forces killed two Palestinian leaders in a targeted air strike on their car on Tuesday.

Hassan Madhun, a leader in the Al-Aksa Martyrs' Brigades of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction, was involved in deadly terror attacks, Israeli security sources said.

Fawzi Karah, who was traveling with Madhun, was part of Hamas's military wing.

Both Karah and Madhun were planning future attacks, Israeli sources said.

According to the sources, information on Madhun's activities had been given to the Palestinian Authority on several occasions but the P.A. did not do anything to stop him.

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said that the day Abbas (Abu Mazen) "begins to curb terrorism originating in the Gaza Strip" Israel would halt its targeted operations against terrorist leaders.

"We are in a constant state of war," Shalom said in a radio interview. "We said that any activity emanating from Gaza would be met by a very severe reaction by Israel. As there is still rocket firing from Gaza, these things cannot go without reaction."

Islamic Jihad was quoted as saying that the "assassinations" would "open the gates of hell" on Israel. And a senior Hamas leader was quoted as saying that Israel had "started a war" with the target killing of the two Palestinians.

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