Text size

Shin Bet security service agents have begun telephoning members of Palestinian terrorist organizations and warning them to leave their houses, so that they and their families will not be hurt when Israel bombs them, Palestinian sources said yesterday.

According to the sources, Shin Bet agents have contacted members of various armed organizations over the last few days and warned them that Israel plans to attack their houses. The houses in question are being targeted because Israel believes that they are being used to store or manufacture weapons, including Qassam rockets and rocket-propelled grenades.

Before dawn yesterday, the Israel Defense Forces bombed two such houses - one belonging to an Islamic Jihad operative in Gaza City and one belonging to a Hamas operative in Rafah, on the Gazan-Egyptian border. According to the army, both houses served as weapons factories.

In addition, the IDF has interrupted local radio broadcasts in several parts of Gaza in recent days, overriding the scheduled programing with warnings about planned attacks on houses that serve as arms caches. The interrupted broadcasts have included some by Hamas' Radio Al-Aqsa.

Also yesterday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met in Ramallah with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Following the meeting, Abbas said that the PA was working to secure the release of Shalit, who was kidnapped by Hamas and two other Palestinian organizations last month. However, he added, Israel and the international community should also understand the pain of thousands of Palestinian families whose relatives are imprisoned in Israel.

Abbas also charged that Israel's military assault, launched following Shalit's kidnapping, has torpedoed his efforts to reach an agreement with Hamas on the so-called prisoners' document, a blueprint for a national unity government.

Rice expressed her government's admiration for Abbas and said that the United States was committed to President George W. Bush's vision of two states for two peoples. However, Palestinian sources said, she also demanded that the Palestinians end Qassam launches at Israel from Gaza, saying that only after this happened would it be possible to persuade Israel to cease its fire.

The sources added that while her visit was meant to bolster Abbas' standing with the Palestinian public, it failed to do so, because it produced no results. Abbas' impression, they said, is that the American focus is currently on Lebanon.

In other developments, Khader al-Maghari, 29, a Palestinian killed in an IDF operation last week, died yesterday of his wounds.