Three Palestinian Militants Killed During Israeli Arrest Attempt

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:14 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - Israeli troops entered the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Monday for the third time since last week's deadly suicide bombing in Jerusalem that left 11 Israelis dead.

Military sources described the operation as "a pinpointed activity against the terrorist infrastructure in the al-Aida refugee camp."

The sources would not confirm if the raid had anything to do with last week's terrorist attack on a Jerusalem bus but Ali Yusef Jaara, Thursday's bomber, was from that camp and was a member of the al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades, part of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction.

Earlier Monday, at least three Palestinians were killed in exchanges of gunfire in the Gaza Strip as Israeli forces tried to arrest a wanted Islamic Jihad leader. When Israeli troops approached the building where the militant was living, a grenade was hurled at them and gunmen inside the house opened fire, the army said.

In the ensuing exchange of gunfire, an armed Islamic Jihad militant was killed along with at least two other armed Palestinians.

Press reports named the Islamic Jihad militant as Yasser Abu al-Aesh, a senior local leader who lost both of his legs and an arm when an Israeli tank shell hit a squad of terrorists firing rockets a year ago. Four other Palestinians were killed in that incident.

Al-Aesh's brother Hussein was also reportedly killed in Monday's clashes.

Last week, five Islamic Jihad militants as well as several civilians were killed in clashes with Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip. The army said the squad had been responsible for launching mortar shells and Kassam rockets at the nearby settlement of Netzarim.