Egyptian truce violated by Israeli strike
GAZA CITY / RIYADH
A Palestinian woman reacts during the funeral of Islamic Jihad militant Ahmed al-Sheikh Khalil in Rafah. AP photo
An Egyptian-brokered truce failed to hold up yesterday as violence between Israel and Gaza resulted in 10 Palestinian militants and an Israeli civilian being killed. The latest strike took place near the southern border city of Rafah in a sharp escalation of violence that began Oct. 29.
One Palestinian was killed and another wounded yesterday in a fresh Israeli raid on Gaza, which came just hours after militants declared a cease-fire, medical sources said, Agence France-Presse reported.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday that Israel had no choice but to retaliate when faced with an attack, and would stop “every attempt to fire against Israel and anyone who fires anyway.” Netanyahu told ministers gathered for a special Cabinet session in Safed that Israel’s defense policy was based on two principles: “Kill or be killed” and “He who harms you should bear the blood on his head,” daily Haaretz reported. Netanyahu made his remarks shortly after Islamic Jihad said it would accept an Egyptian-mediated cease-fire if Israel agreed to halt its “aggression” against Gaza.
Nine of those killed in Israeli air strikes Oct. 29 were militants from the Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad. An Israeli man also died after he was hit by shrapnel from a rocket that landed in the southern port city of Ashdod, some 30 kilometers up the coast from Gaza.
The current round of cross-border violence began Oct. 26, when residents of Israeli suburbs in the southern approaches to Tel Aviv were jolted awake at night by sirens usually sounded in towns and villages closer to the Gaza Strip, Reuters reported. The alert was triggered by what Israeli security sources said was an upgraded long-range Grad rocket that struck harmlessly near the Israeli port of Ashdod, leading to an Israeli air strike Oct. 29 that killed five top Islamic Jihad militants in a Gaza training camp.
Meanwhile, a member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family increased to $1 million a reward offered by a Saudi cleric to anyone who captures an Israeli soldier to swap him for Palestinian prisoners. Prince Khaled bin Talal, brother of billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, told the kingdom’s al-Daleel TV station by telephone Oct. 29 that he was raising a previous offer made by Sheik Awadh al-Qarani, a prominent Saudi cleric who promised $100,000 for capturing an Israeli soldier, Associated Press reported.
“I tell Sheik al-Qarani that I support you and I will pay $900,000 to make it $1 million for the capture of an Israeli soldier to release other prisoners,” said a voice identified as Prince Khaled, who holds no official position in the government. The Saudi offers follow in the wake of the release of Israeli soldier Sgt. Gilad Schalit, who was held by Hamas in Gaza for more than five years. Israel has agreed to free over 1,000 prisoners in exchange. Prince Khaled said he made the offer in response to what he said were Israeli threats against Qarani’s life. He did not provide any further details.