Elite Israeli soldier dies as bulldozer raid goes wrong

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 17 Feb 2002 10:32:37 -0000

The Israeli army suffered a double blow to the symbols of its military
prowess yesterday when the head of a crack commando unit was killed
hours after Palestinian militants blew up a tank for the first time in
the 16-month uprising. 

As a reprisal, Israeli jets attacked a Palestinian police compound at
Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip yesterday, killing a police
lieutenant and wounding 25 others, including a four-year-old girl. 

The death of the commando - who was killed when a wall collapsed beside
a house that had been rammed by an army bulldozer minutes earlier -
comes as senior military officials are openly voicing their disquiet
over the effectiveness of Israel's mighty army against ragtag militants.

Lieutenant-Colonel Eyal Weiss, 34, was the fourth Israeli soldier killed
in 12 hours, and one of the army's best men, a military spokesman said.
He was the commander of the crack Duvdevan unit - the most feared by
Palestinians - whose troops often dress as Arabs, storming West Bank
villages to detain or assassinate suspected militants. 

A Palestinian militant was also killed in yesterday morning's incursion
into Saida, near the West Bank town of Tulkaram, and the army said five
suspected members of Islamic Jihad were arrested. 

Weiss was killed when the roof of the bulldozed house collapsed as he
was interrogating a captive. The loss of a high-profile soldier comes
only days after senior military officials bitterly criticised Israel's
strategy of thundering into Palestinian-controlled areas. They said this
week's invasion of Gaza, after Palestinian militants fired homemade
rockets into Israel, had failed. 

Such disquiet peaked after a 100kg (220lb) bomb blew up a Merkava 3 tank
and killed three soldiers in the Gaza Strip on Thursday night. 

For Israel, the ambush near the Netzarim junction invokes its bloody,
two-decade occupation of southern Lebanon, when Hizbullah guerrillas
immobilised their forces with roadside bombings. 

Commentators described the bombing - the device was apparently planted
several days before - as a huge blow to military prestige and a boost to
Palestinian morale. 

"It is as if the terrorists, with their Kalashnikov rifles and homemade
rockets, had succeeded in shooting down an F-16 warplane," the Ma'ariv
newspaper said. 

The army launched an inquiry into the bombing, but commentators said the
military must review its strategy of using heavy armour to enter
Palestinian areas. 
Source:  The Guardian 

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