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Monday, August 13, 2007

Israeli Arab group claims it was behind Jerusalem shooting

A frightening reality: Israeli Arabs are more active in terror attacks.
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 11:26 13/08/2007    
By Yoav Stern and Jonathan Lis, Haaretz Correspondent

An unknown Israeli Arab organization "Galilee freedom brigades" claimed responsibility on Sunday for the shooting that took place in the Old City of Jerusalem Friday in which Ahmed Khatib, an Israeli Arab from Kfar Manda in the Galilee, grabbed a security guard's weapon, shot him, and was later killed in the ensuing shoot-out which left ten people wounded.
The Palestinian news agency Ma'an published a message received from Israeli Arab which said that the shooting was planned to avenge "the assassination of Shahid Mohammad Khatib from Kfar Manda on April 18th, 2004."
On that date, Border Police shot and killed Khatib in a shoot-out at Beit Rimon Junction in the Galilee after Khatib and a second Israeli Arab had opened fire at them.
In the message claiming responsibility a mistake was made. Mohammad Khatib was not from Kfar Manda but rather Kfar Kana. His partner in the shoot-out, however, was a resident of Kfar Manda.
Nasser al-Laham, editor in chief of the Ma'an news agency, told Haaretz on Sunday that this is the third time that he has received a message from the organization from inside Israel.
In the message, the organization said that this was not their first action. They also denied any ties to Palestinian organizations such as the People's Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Islamic Jihad or Fatah. They did not deny any ties to Hamas.
On Sunday, a film of the shoot-out, which took place in the Old City's crowded pedestrian walkway, was released. In the film, Khatib can be clearly seen following the security guards through the Old City's narrow streets. Close to a grocery store, he reached one of the guards, pulled the guard's pistol out of its holster and ran. The guards chased him, and at some point one of them grabbed him and was shot. Khatib continued to run away, and a gun battle ensued between him and the other guard, who in the end mortally wounded him. Khatib is then seen on the ground, as the final scenes of the shooting were not shown in the released film.
Arab MK and Deputy Knesset Speaker Ahmed Tibi criticized the fact that the ending, in which Khatib is killed, was taken out. "In light of the accounts made that the guards 'confirmed the kill', the end of the film must be shown. The fact that it was not shown raises questions."

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