Wednesday 22 June 2005 6:44 AM GMT
Israel says it will resume its attack on Palestinian fighters
Israel has resumed an assassination policy against resistance fighters from the Islamic Jihad group, confirming Palestinian reports of a failed Israeli missile strike in Gaza a day earlier.
"There was an attempt in Gaza to intercept an [Islamic Jihad] activist yesterday. It was unsuccessful," Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra said on Army Radio on Wednesday, without naming the fighter.
"Any means to neutralise the organisation are relevant and possible," he said.
Ezra said "an opportunity had presented itself" and Israel targeted the fighter while Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas were meeting in Jerusalem on Tuesday.
In the northern Gaza town of Bait Lahya, residents pointed to a damaged structure and a crater with metal fragments which they said came from an Israeli missile launched from an aircraft.
End of truce
Sharon had suspended what Israel calls targeted killings after declaring a truce with Abbas four months ago, but complained at their summit on Tuesday that the Palestinian leader was not doing enough to rein in armed men.
"Israel tries to disturb the Palestinian internal unity by targeting a certain faction"
Islamic Jihad member
Islamic Jihad has been carrying out mortar bomb and rocket attacks against Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and a town in southern Israel in what it calls a response to Israeli raids against its members.
"The attempt yesterday to kill an Islamic Jihad leader in Gaza signalled the resumption of the targeted killing policy," an Israeli security source said.
Ezra added "the war against any organisation acting against us would continue as long as the Palestinian Authority" failed to crack down on fighters.
Khidr Habib, a member from Islamic Jihad's political arm told Aljazeera the Israeli comments were merely threats and Islamic Jihad would defend Palestinians "whatever the costs and sacrifices may be".
"We expect such announcements from Israel whose threats have not stopped yet," Habib said.
"Islamic Jihad has committed to calm and that can be seen on the ground while Israel continues violations, assaults and crimes against our people," he added.
Habib said Erez was specifically singling out Islamic Jihad in its attack as part of an Israeli policy to create a split among Palestinian groups.
"Israel tries to disturb the Palestinian internal unity by targeting a certain faction," he said.
Aljazeera + Agencies
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