Thousands of Palestinians bury Islamic Jihad leader in Tul Karm

By Nir Hasson, Arnon Regular and Jonathan Lis


Tishrei 23, 5766

Tens of thousands of Palestinian mourners, many of them wailing in grief, buried one of Islamic Jihad's top leaders Tuesday morning in Tul Karm, a day after he was killed during a shootout with Israel Defense Forces troops, sparking a new round of violence.

Hours after Luay Saadi, the leader of Islamic Jihad's military wing in the West Bank, was killed in a gunfight with a close accomplice in the Tul Karm refugee camp in the West Bank, Islamic Jihad militants launched five Qassam rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip.

Israel, which said it would act harshly against any attacks from Gaza following its withdrawal from the coastal strip last month, responded by firing artillery and missiles from a helicopter into empty fields in northern Gaza the militants used to launch the rockets.

Palestinian Authoriy Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday condemned Saadi's killing and Islamic Jihad's retaliation, which he called "silly."

"We don't accept the Israeli aggression and we don't accept the silly responses that lead to the punishment of the (Palestinian) people," he said.

Palestinian militants ultimately ceased their fire once the PA deployed police officers near their launching sites.

In an earlier response Monday to the Islamic Jihad rocket barrage on Monday, the IAF launched a missile strike in the southern Gaza town of Rafah, hitting a building that housed a pro-Islamic Jihad charity. The attack moderately wounded a 65-year-old woman and a 4-month-old baby and lightly hurt three others, Palestinian health officials said.

Israel Radio reported that the Erez and Karni borders crossings between Israel and Gaza Strip were shut down Monday night.

The five Qassam rockets that sparked off the recent exchange of fire in Gaza slammed into open areas near the western Negev town of Sderot. There were no casualties or damage caused. Palestinian witnesses said one of the rockets apparently misfired and hit a mourning tent for a dead Palestinian in northern Gaza.

There were no reports of Palestinian casualties from the IDF artillery shelling.