Wednesday, October 17, 2001

At least 1 PFLP gunman assassinates Israeli tourism M Ze'evi in an East Jerusalem hotel, shooting him at point blank range, using a pistol equipped with a silencer, escaping undetected. The PFLP says it is retaliating for the assassination of PFLP secy. gen. Mustafa on 8/27; also takes responsibility for a suicide car bombing in Gaza that wounds 2 IDF soldiers. Arafat immediately condemns the assassination, orders the PSF to arrest the killers. The PSF quickly arrests 3 PFLP mbrs. but releases them after questioning. (AP, HA, HP, JP [Internet], MM, REU 10/17; AFP, ATL, XIN 10/17 in WNC 10/18; HA, MM, NYT, WP, WT 10/18; al-Quds 10/18 in WNC 10/19; Tehran Times 10/20 in WNC 10/22; WJW 10/25)

Meanwhile, Hamas mbr. Iyad al-Akhras is killed in an explosion in his Gaza home in what may be an assassination. The IDF also fires a missile at a Palestinian car in Nablus, but the rocket misses, 3 Palestinians escape unharmed. The IDF makes a predawn incursion into al-Qarara, firing heavy machine guns at homes, bulldozing 10s of dunams of cultivated land for construction of a settler bypass road; directs machine gun fire at residential areas of Gaza City, Jinin, Rafah; bulldozes secondary Palestinian roads around Ramallah. Palestinian gunmen reportedly fire at Neve Dekalim, wounding 2 Jewish settlers. In East Jerusalem, Jewish settlers angry over Ze'evi's murder attack, beat Palestinians. (HP 10/17; WT 10/18)

After a lengthy Israeli inner cabinet mtg., Sharon issues an ultimatum to the PA: arrest and extradite Ze'evi's killers and the PFLP's current leaders and "dismantle terror organizations" or face a response more severe than any recent reprisal. Sharon then convenes a special session of the Knesset (boycotted by Arab MKs), where he declares, "We will wage all-out war on the terrorists" and "those who collaborate with them." National Union+nYisrael Beitunia MKs suspend their resignations to see how Sharon responds. The IDF sends tanks, troops 2.5 mi. into area A around Jinin; reimposes tight closures on, places 24 hr. curfews on, and directs shells and heavy machine gun fire at residential areas of Azariyya, al-Bireh, Jinin, Nablus, Ramallah; deploys helicopters to hover over major Palestinian population centers; bars Arafat fr. using Gaza airport. (HP, MM 10/17; AFP, MM, NYT, WP, WT 10/18; JP [Internet], WP 10/29)

Powell phones Sharon to urge Israel to use restraint. The White House calls on the PA to "immediately find and bring to justice those who committed this murder," saying Arafat must "take vigorous action against terrorists." (MM, WP 10/18; Interfax, MENA, QA 10/18 in WNC 10/19)