JERUSALEM (AP) – Israeli helicopters blasted a Gaza City building with missiles yesterday, killing a suspected militant, one of several violent incidents on a day also marked by Israeli statements about Palestinian statehood.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that as part of the U.S.-sponsored “road map” for Mideast peace, Palestinians could set up a temporary state in part of the West Bank and much of Gaza. But Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that even before peace talks, Palestinians would have to give up their demand to relocate millions of refugees in Israel.
In Gaza City, the pair of Israeli helicopters fired several missiles at a cinderblock hut used by security guards at a Palestinian government complex, killing the uniformed guard, Mustafa Sabah, 35, Palestinians said.
According to the Israeli army, Sabah was involved in three powerful roadside bomb attacks against Israeli tanks in Gaza that killed seven soldiers from February to September of this year.
Israel has carried out dozens of targeted killings against suspected Palestinian militants during the past two years of Mideast fighting.
The Israelis say the operations are self-defense, but Palestinians and human rights groups object to the practice. Palestinians charge the Israelis are killing their leaders, and human rights groups complain the operations are summary executions without judicial process.
In the West Bank village of Tufah, Israeli troops searching caves for members of the militant Islamic Jihad group came under fire, the army said, and soldiers shot back, killing two men.
Also, Israel said it detained an American doctor for two weeks on suspicion he was linked to al-Qaida, before releasing him without charge. The U.S. Embassy said there was no evidence linking him to any terror group.
Khaled Nazem Diab, 34, arrived in Israel on Nov. 14 on a mission for the Qatari Red Crescent to train Palestinian social workers, said Farek Hussein, director for the Palestinian Red Crescent.
Diab was detained at Ben-Gurion International Airport by Israeli officials, detained for two weeks, and then released last week and deported to Jordan, Hussein said.
“We have no evidence that he was involved in terrorist activity,” said U.S. Embassy spokesman Paul Patin. “He’s a qualified doctor. He’s been in and out of the (Palestinian) territories doing humanitarian work with children.”