Just three days after Palestinians elected a new leader who called for an end to attacks on Israelis, a bomb exploded near an Israeli military jeep patrolling an Israeli settlement in Gaza, killing a civilian constructing a security fence and injuring four soldiers in the jeep.Gideon Rivlin, 50, and the father of five, was killed while constructing the fence near the hothouses of the southern Gaza settlement of Morag. Two Palestinian terrorists reportedly from Islamic Jihad carried out the attack and were shot and killed in the firefight that followed. Israeli troops found six other bombs planted in the area. The attack came one day after Secretary of State Colin Powell called on the new Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, to fight terrorists who refuse to end violence against Israel. If he does that, Powell said, both the U.S. and Israel would support him.
Two senior members of another Palestinian terrorist group, Hamas, which has also refused to stop its attacks, were shot and killed by Israeli troops in the West Bank village of Qarwat Beni Zeit northwest of Ramallah Wednesday. The men reportedly refused an order to leave the house they were in and opened fire on troops that entered to search it.
In another development, the Russian newspaper Kommersant reported Wednesday that Moscow plans to sell Iskander-E missiles to Syria that are capable of destroying targets 175 miles away. That would put virtually all Israeli territory within reach, including Israel’s nuclear reactor in Dimona in the Negev desert.
Israel, fearful that the missiles could fall into the hands of Hezbollah terrorists perched on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, is trying to stop the deal. The deputy Russian foreign minister was reportedly in the region to discuss the matter, and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is said to have discussed the matter with Washington.