NATIONAL

Militants attack Israeli bus with missile

MANAMA (BAHRAIN) JULY 26. Palestinian militants today targeted an Israeli civilian bus with an anti-tank missile, marking the first high profile attempt to retaliate against Monday nights F-16 air raid in Gaza that killed several civilians.

This attack, however, did not cause injuries to the passengers who were travelling in the armoured bus. Palestinian extremists on Thursday claimed responsibility for killing Rabbi Elimelech Shapira in a road ambush close to a Jewish colony. According to media reports, Palestinian militants also fired a Qasam rocket at an Israeli village, close to the Gaza Strip. However, it did not injure anyone.

Bracing itself for more violence after the Monday air raid, Israel is following a two-track approach to the counter the unrest. For instance, Israel has stepped up ground operations to diminish Palestinian capability to mount attacks.

Israeli soldiers, for the first time since March, moved tanks and troops in Gaza to destroy two metal workshops apparently involved in manufacturing Qasam rockets. They also demolished a Palestinian police post before pulling back. While persisting with its fire-fighting, the Israeli Government is backtracking from some of its proposals, that it felt were necessary to deter future Palestinian terrorist strikes.

According to media reports, the Israeli Government may not expel relatives of terrorists involved in recent violent attacks in Israel. These plans may either be shelved or entirely dropped in the future. While the attack killed the military head of the extremist Hamas group, the majority of those killed were children.

The Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, also appears to have given his nod for the restricted entry of Palestinian construction workers from Gaza into Israel, after they have been security cleared.

Meanwhile, Arab Governments have continued to intensify diplomatic pressure on Israel. The Arab League on Thursday urged the U.S. to stop export of weapons, especially F-16 planes to Israel.

The U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, in a statement said, "We are constantly reviewing the manner in which the military equipment that the we have provided to the State of Israel is used".

The Arab ambassadors have asked the U.N. Security Council to provide international protection to the Palestinian people, declare the Gaza air attack as a war crime and bring the perpetrators of the incident for trial before international tribunals.

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