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Israeli tank blows up leading militant - Guardian, UK

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  • Zafar Khan
    Israeli tank blows up leading militant Suzanne Goldenberg in Jerusalem Thursday May 23, 2002 The Guardian
    Message 1 of 1 , May 23, 2002
      Israeli tank blows up leading militant

      Suzanne Goldenberg in Jerusalem
      Thursday May 23, 2002
      The Guardian


      Israel assassinated the most powerful militia
      commander in the West Bank yesterday, firing five tank
      shells on a cemetery in a refugee camp to blow up the
      leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades.
      Mahmoud Titi, 30, was the guiding force behind the
      military offshoot of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement,
      which emerged this year as one of the most
      devastatingly efficient militia organisations,
      carrying out a wave of shootings and suicide bombings.

      Titi was killed along with two other fighters in the
      graveyard of the Balata refugee camp, near Nablus. The
      camp is the birthplace of the Al Aqsa Martyrs'
      Brigades, and reasserted itself as a stronghold of
      militancy earlier this year when the group adopted the
      tactics of Islamist groups such as Hamas and Islamic
      Jihad. It launched attacks inside Israel and suicide
      bombings - once seen as taboo by Fatah.

      Titi was pivotal to that decision, claiming that the
      Israeli army's invasion of the Balata refugee camp
      last March gave the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades every
      right to retaliate.

      Titi's home was destroyed in the invasion. He told the
      Guardian at the time: "This makes us more determined
      to confront Israel and to fight them. Now they have
      demolished my home, I have every reason to attack
      inside Israel."

      "They believe demolishing my house will destroy my
      morale, but it is doing the opposite. The more
      pressure that is put on us, the stronger the explosion
      will be."

      Titi's assassination, carried out from a hill above
      the camp, represents a devastating blow to the
      militia, eliminating its most seasoned commander.
      Despite that loss of capacity, it is bound to result
      in fierce Palestinian retaliation. As night fell,
      scores of Palestinians gathered by Titi's mutilated
      corpse, vowing revenge.

      Until April, Titi was the chief of operations for the
      Al Aqsa Brigades, but he rose to the rank of commander
      when Israel arrested the group's leader, Nasser Awais,
      in a village in the Jordan valley.

      In a statement on the assassination yesterday, the
      Israeli army said Titi was behind a string of attacks,
      including the shootings at a batmitzvah party in
      January which killed six, and one in a Tel Aviv
      restaurant in March in which three Israelis were

      As operations chief for Al Aqsa, Titi was responsible
      for building up an armed organisation that was barely
      18 months old. He raised units to procure weapons,
      make bombs, and pass telephone messages, using code to
      evade Israeli listening devices and Palestinian

      ยท Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon, brought a
      rebellious parliamentary coalition to its knees
      yesterday, pushing through a sweeping package of
      budget cuts.

      Israel's parliament, voted 65 to 26 in favour of tax
      increases and cuts in family allowance that had been
      bitterly opposed by the ultra-Orthodox Shas and United
      Torah Judaism parties.

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