JERUSALEM – A bomb exploded Thursday at the farm of a fugitive Islamic militant, killing a Palestinian woman and wounding her son, and Israeli troops arrested a regional Hamas leader elsewhere in the West Bank.
Also Thursday, the Palestinian security chief, Abdel Razek Yehiyeh, was in Gaza for a renewed attempt at persuading Hamas and Islamic Jihad to halt shooting and bombing attacks in Israel, senior Palestinian officials said.
Twelve 12 Palestinian factions, including the Islamic groups, were to resume talks Thursday in Gaza City on a joint political platform. Talks broke down earlier this month after Hamas and Islamic Jihad vetoed clauses calling for an end to attacks on Israelis and implying recognition of Israel. Yehiyeh was to participate in the talks, marking the first time a senior Palestinian Authority official is involved.
In the village of Saida in the northern West Bank, a 55-year-old Palestinian woman was killed and her son was wounded Thursday when a bomb exploded at the chicken farm where they were working, Palestinian security officials said.
The farm belonged to an Islamic Jihad fugitive, Ahmed Yassin, 30, the officials said. The fugitive is not related to the Hamas leader by the same name.
Also in the northern West Bank, Israeli troops arrested the Hamas leader in the town of Qalqiliya, Mohammed Wajeh Quoa, 41, Palestinian officials said. Quoa had been arrested repeatedly by Israel in the past and in 1992 was deported to south Lebanon for one year, along with 400 other Islamic militant activists.
The arrest came a day after Israeli security officials announced the capture of a five-member Hamas cell, including four Arab residents of Jerusalem. Cell members are suspected of detonating a series of bombs, including the July 31 blast in the student cafeteria of Jerusalem's Hebrew University.
Nine people were killed in the explosion, including five Americans.
Security officials said the bomb was planted by Mohammed Oudeh, a university handyman who used his entry permit to walk into the campus. Oudeh planted the explosives in the cafeteria, walked away and set them off with a cell phone, causing widespread destruction, security officials said. The next day, Oudeh was called to work by his unsuspecting boss, an Israeli contractor, and was asked to help repair bomb damage in the cafeteria.
Oudeh's cell is also blamed for suicide bombings in a Jerusalem cafe and a pool hall in the Tel Aviv suburb of Rishon Letzion that killed 26 people.
The arrests of the four east Jerusalem residents took many Israelis by surprise, because Palestinians living in the city had been relatively inactive in the past two years of Israeli-Palestinian fighting.
About 200,000 Palestinians live in east Jerusalem, the sector Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war and later annexed to its capital. The Palestinians in the city have residency permits and blue Israeli ID cards that give them freedom of movement.
Eli Yishai, the Israeli interior minister, said he would work to revoke the residency permits of the four suspects, even before a trial is held. "There's no reason, like in the past with previous cases, to wait for the court since the evidence speaks for itself and they confessed to what they did," Yishai told Israel Radio. "We must fight with all the power to stop this."
Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert said that "the vast majority" of Jerusalem's Arabs are peaceful. Asked about measures to prevent further acts of terror, he said, "One thing is certain. There will be no wall down the middle of Jerusalem."
Gideon Ezra, a member of parliament from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Likud party, said Jerusalem Arabs involved in terror should be punished harshly: "Cancel their social security payments, destroy their houses."
Israeli and Palestinian commanders met Wednesday to discuss extending Palestinian security control over the Gaza Strip. On Sunday, the two sides agreed to use Bethlehem and Gaza as a trial, pulling Israeli troops back and handing security duties over to the Palestinians. If the test is successful, Israel has said it would ease restrictions in other parts of the West Bank.
The Israeli military said that at the meeting, the Palestinians pledged to take immediate action to restore calm and prevent violence, while the Israelis promised further steps to ease the humanitarian situation for the Palestinian population.