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Witnesses: exploding shack was not attacked by IDF

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  • Josh Pollack
    Los Angeles Times July 30 2001 Six Palestinians Activists Killed in West Bank Explosion From Associated Press
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 30, 2001
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      Los Angeles Times
      July 30 2001
      Six Palestinians Activists Killed in West Bank Explosion
      From Associated Press

      http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-mideast073001.story


      NABLUS, West Bank -- An explosion ripped through a car parts store today in
      the West Bank, killing six Palestinian activists in one of the deadliest
      single episodes in 10 months of Mideast violence. Hours later, Israeli
      helicopters rocketed the Palestinian police headquarters in Gaza City,
      injuring two policemen.

      The helicopter strike sent white smoke rising from the police compound as
      people ran frantically from the buildings into the street.

      The Israeli military said the compound was used for manufacturing weapons
      and mortar rounds. Jewish settlements in Gaza have come under frequent
      mortar attack, and the Israelis have criticized Palestinian leader Yasser
      Arafat for failing to prevent the attacks. The police compound is near
      Arafat's seaside offices, though he was out of the region at the time.

      The six activists killed in the blast that destroyed the car parts store-- a
      roadside tin shack outside the West Bank city of Nablus-- were all from
      Arafat's Fatah movement.

      Palestinians called the predawn blast part of Israel's efforts to kill
      suspected militants. "The Israeli government continues its policy of
      assassination," said Palestinian Cabinet Secretary Ahmed Abdel Rahman. "This
      policy will destroy any hope for peace. Resistance will continue."

      But Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Dalia Rabin-Pelossof called the
      explosion a "work accident," Israel's euphemism for a Palestinian-made bomb
      that goes off prematurely. "This is not the first time that the Palestinians
      have accused Israel of assassinations when explosions like this occurred,"
      she told army radio.

      Israeli security sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said three of
      the Palestinians were wanted by Israel. They were believed to be involved in
      two bomb attacks in recent months, the sources said.

      The force of the blast blew the roof off the shack, and it was badly burned
      inside, suggesting the explosion came from within the structure. Palestinian
      witnesses said they did not hear helicopters or tank guns-- signals of
      earlier Israeli attacks.

      The store sits among rows of rusting cars that have been junked, near the
      al-Fara refugee camp.

      Palestinian Mansour Barahmah said he was sleeping when he heard a powerful
      explosion shortly after 1 a.m.

      "I went there immediately and found a fire," he said. "The bodies were still
      burning."

      The bodies were dismembered by the explosion, and some body parts were
      tossed 30 yards from a table where the men had been sitting on old car
      seats, he said. Playing cards, which were apparently in use at the time,
      were smeared with blood.

      The men, ages 22 to 31, regularly slept in the shack, fearing the Israelis
      would attack them in their homes, Palestinian witnesses said. A seventh man
      in the shack was seriously wounded, they added.

      Also today, two Palestinians, ages 17 and 11, were shot by Israeli troops in
      the southern Gaza Strip near by border with Egypt, Palestinian security
      sources said. The Palestinians claimed the Israelis fired without
      provocation, the Israeli army said troops came under fire from anti-tank
      grenades and shot back.

      Today's violence followed a tense day Sunday in Jerusalem, where
      Palestinians rained stones on Jewish worshippers commemorating a holy day at
      the Western Wall, prompting Israeli police to storm a mosque and drive back
      the crowd with stun grenades.

      Sunday's clash came exactly 10 months after the current round of Mideast
      violence erupted inside the same hilltop compound where two large mosques
      were built atop the ruins of the biblical Jewish temples.

      Israel claims sovereignty over the compound, which Jews call the Temple
      Mount. However, the Waqf, an Islamic trust, has day-to-day control over what
      Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary.

      The first clashes in the current violence broke out at the site Sept. 29--
      the day after a controversial visit by Ariel Sharon, Israel's prime
      minister, who was opposition leader at the time. Since then, 539
      Palestinians and 133 Israelis have died in the fighting.

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