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Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Islamic Jihad Leader to JPost: ATTACKS WILL CONTINUE

Israel has continued to hunt suspected terrorists in the Jenin area, traditionally the most radical and violent sector of the West Bank. In recent days the IDF has arrested five Jihad members in the Jenin area town of Kabatya. An Islamic Jihad leader in Jenin said terror attacks will resume, because he claimed Israel has not kept its side of the bargain.

"Since Israel has not kept the Hudna, Islamic Jihad and Hamas therefore cannot sit by and maintain the cease-fire, the attacks will resume," Bessam Sa'adi, Islamic Jihad leader in Jenin, told the Jerusalem Post in a telephone interview.

Sa'adi's Jenin terror cell claimed responsibility for Monday night's suicide bombing at Moshav Kfar Yabetz, which killed Mazal Afari, 64. The bomber who died in the blast was Ahmed Yihye, 22, from a village near Jenin.

Israel's refusal to free Islamic Jihad and Hamas prisoners, said Sa'adi, is the catalyst that drove the group to resume attacks, not the IDF's continued hunt for terrorists.

Israel has continued to hunt suspected terrorists in the Jenin area, traditionally the most radical and violent sector of the West Bank. In recent days the IDF has arrested five Jihad members in the Jenin area town of Kabatya.

"The issue of prisoner release is the most important one to us, after the liberation of the territories," Sa'adi said.

Sa'adi said the attack was also meant to be a sharp jab at Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya'alon, who last week announced, if ambiguously, that Israel has won its conflict with the Palestinians.

"This supposed victory by Israel provoked us to show that the Palestinian struggle is not over, and we are far from vanquished," Sa'adi told the Post. "We have become so used to death and deprivation and the loss of our family members that we have nothing left to lose if we fight on." Sa'adi said Monday's attack was a "limited reaction" to Israeli actions.

"It is a direct warning to Israel that if the assaults on us continue we will end the cease-fire," he said. Sa'adi said his group considers any Israeli presence in the West Bank to be part of the "assaults" on Palestinians.

Despite the crackdown, and Israel's efforts to flatten a large swath of the city's refugee camp, Sa'adi said his group maintains "absolute command" of terrorists in Jenin.

"It was only after consultation with the leadership that the order for the attack was given," he said.

However, Muhammed Al Hindi, Islamic Jihad representative in Gaza, disclaimed any connection to the attack and vowed that his group continues to abide by the cease-fire one which Israel never recognized.

Other Palestinian leaders, primarily in Fatah and other secular movements, have called for the intifada to assume a non-violent character. Sa'adi said he rejects this stance.

"The only way Israel and the Americans will notice us is if we continue the violent struggle," he said. "Then the only thing we can do is wait for the prophet [Muhammad] to come and redeem us."

Sa'adi has been in hiding for over a year, rarely sleeping the in the same house. Two of his sons were killed, Israel says, when they tried to attack IDF troops in Jenin.