- JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- Israel
accused Syria on Monday of "directing terrorism" and warned it
could face pre-emptive strikes against militants on its territory, but
stopped short of saying it killed a Hamas leader in Damascus.
- Syria had accused Israel of terrorism following the Palestinian
militant's death in a car bombing on Sunday, three weeks after Hamas killed
16 Israelis in bombings Israel blamed on Hamas exiles in Damascus.
- In the latest violence, an Israeli helicopter missile
strike killed a Palestinian militant traveling with other members of the
Popular Resistance Committees, an umbrella militant group, in a car in
the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis, medics said.
- Earlier, Israeli troops shot dead two fighters trying
to plant a bomb near Gaza's border fence, Palestinian security sources
- In the West Bank, Israeli police arrested a Jewish settler
for the shooting death of a Palestinian taxi driver, and in the city of
Nablus, soldiers killed two Palestinians during what residents said were
confrontations with stone-throwers. Israeli military sources said the troops
shot two armed men.
- Taking aim at Syria, Israeli Deputy Defense Minister
Zeev Boim said the Jewish state's northern neighbor was "a central
junction in regional terrorism" and President Bashar al-Assad "works
there as the traffic officer."
- "Syria is responsible for directing this terrorism
against us and therefore it cannot be immune to our operations aimed at
preventing terror," Boim said on Israel Radio.
- Asked whether Israel was behind the killing of Izz el-Deen
al-Sheikh Khalil, 42, who Palestinian sources said headed Hamas's military
wing outside the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Boim said: "I didn't say
that. We don't confirm or deny this."
- Channel Two television quoted unnamed security sources
as saying Israeli agents had planted the bomb which tore apart Khalil when
he turned the ignition of his car.
- Syria's state radio on Monday said Israel's practices
were keeping the region in a "state of tension and danger" and
called on the international community to restrain the Jewish state.
- "It is not in any one's interest in the region or
outside that silence on the Israeli aggressive and terrorist practices
and killings and destructive operations against the Palestinian people
continues," the radio said in a commentary.
- HAMAS SAYS WILL HIT BACK
- Hamas threatened to retaliate in an accelerating cycle
of violence that could complicate Israel's planned evacuation of settlers
and soldiers from occupied Gaza next year.
- Militants have cranked up ambush attacks in the past
few weeks, keen to cast any Israeli pullout as fleeing under fire, and
citing Israel's intent to hold on to larger settlements in the West Bank
as a trade-off for jettisoning the Gaza Strip.
- Hamas, an Islamist movement bent on destroying Israel,
has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings in a four-year-old
uprising in which more than 2,500 Palestinians have also died.
- Israel says Syria has permitted exiled Palestinian militant
leaders to orchestrate attacks from bases in Damascus. Syria says Hamas
and other Palestinian groups have only "information offices"
in the country.
- Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie, a Fatah moderate,
on Monday condemned the "assassination of the martyr Khalil"
and called it an Israeli attempt to "export the crisis."
- Israel had warned it would renew an assassination campaign
against Hamas leaders wherever they were after bus bombings on Aug. 31
that killed 16 people in the city of Beersheba.
- - Additional reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza,
Wafa Amr in Ramallah, Atef Sa'ad in Nablus, Megan Goldin in Jerusalem,
Inal Ersan in Damascus; Editing by Sami Aboudi
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