June 29, 2007 / 8:09 AM / 10 years ago

Israel kills militant from Abbas's Fatah movement

3 Min Read

<p>A Palestinian man inspects his damaged house, following an Israeli army raid in the West Bank city of Nablus June 29, 2007.Stringer</p>

NABLUS, West Bank (Reuters) - Israeli troops killed a Palestinian militant from President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement on Friday on the second day of a large-scale military raid targeting armed loyalists of the Western-backed leader.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has accused Israel of trying to undermine Abbas's emergency cabinet by conducting the raid despite the Palestinian leader's vows to take his own steps to disarm gunmen.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said soldiers had shot the Palestinian as he fled from troops in a refugee camp near the West Bank city of Nablus.

Officials of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades of Fatah said the 28-year-old militant had belonged to their group, and that Israeli soldiers had shot him as he fled arrest. Medics confirmed he had been killed.

Israel launched the raid on Thursday, sending in 50 armored vehicles to the Nablus area. Troops clamped a curfew on the city centre and conducted house-to-house searches for militants suspected of involvement in violence against Israel.

The Israeli raid signaled the Jewish state would continue to pursue Fatah militants despite its pledges to bolster Abbas as he tries to stabilize his hold in the West Bank after Hamas Islamists seized control of the Gaza Strip two weeks ago.

In fighting on Thursday, Israel fired rubber coated steel bullets that injured seven Palestinians, and five Israeli soldiers were also wounded in the violence, Israeli and Palestinian security sources said.

Soldiers also arrested nine Palestinians after finding a bomb production facility in Nablus, the Israeli army said.

In response to Friday's killing, a spokesman for the militants, Ala Sanakeh, said the group would not honor Abbas's decree issued earlier this week to hand over their weapons. He said weapons were needed to respond to Israeli incursions.

Hamas Suspects Held

Abbas had said after installing his emergency cabinet two weeks ago he would no longer permit Palestinians to bear illegal weapons.

A source in the Fatah-dominated security services said Palestinian troops have since then arrested Hamas members suspected of illegally possessing arms or trying to set up an independent police force in the West Bank.

Hamas official Fawzi Barhoum said forces loyal to Abbas had taken more than 250 Hamas supporters into custody in the past two weeks, and that 120 had not yet been released. Barhoum denied any of the suspects were gunmen.

Ismail Haniyeh, who still considers himself as head of a unity government Abbas has sacked, condemned Israel's raid in the West Bank and another in Gaza in which 12 Palestinians were killed on Wednesday.

Speaking as he left a mosque in Gaza City on Friday, Haniyeh urged Abbas to renew contacts with Hamas, saying "the Palestinian political system cannot live without" the Islamist movement.

Additional reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza and Mohammed Assadi in Ramallah

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