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Islamic Jihad calls for revenge after commander killed

Israeli troops Thursday in Hebron.
Israeli troops Thursday in Hebron.

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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- The radical Palestinian group Islamic Jihad called Thursday for retaliation after Israel killed one of its leaders in Hebron, a man Israel said had a hand in the deaths of 19 Israelis and was planning new attacks.

In a statement faxed to CNN, Islamic Jihad called for its members to respond in any way possible to the killing of their commander, Muhammad Sadr, 26.

The response will take place anywhere their members can reach, the statement said. "With this crime the Zionist occupation has crossed all the red lines," it said. Palestinian Islamic Jihad has carried out attacks on Israeli civilians and military targets in the past and is considered by Israel to be a terrorist group.

Thursday's killing of Sadr comes two days after a pair of suicide bombings in which two Israelis were killed. The militant wing of Hamas took responsibility for one; Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades the other.

Those bombings Tuesday were described by a State Department official as "the most serious challenge yet" to the U.S.-backed Mideast peace process, known as the road map.

U.S.: Bombings a serious challenge to peace process

Israeli security sources said the Israel Defense Forces went after Sadr after intelligence indicated he had constructed a weapons lab and was planning new attacks despite a cease-fire declared by Islamic Jihad and other radical Palestinian groups.

The sources said IDF forces surrounded a carpentry workshop where Sadr was hiding.

"During an attempt to break into the workshop, a series of explosions occurred, indicating the spot was used as an explosive laboratory," the sources said. "It appears that Sadr was killed as a result of the detonation of explosives devices in the laboratory."

Palestinian security sources said the soldiers used dynamite to demolish the house in the West Bank city.

Thursday's raid was not the first time IDF had gone after Sadr. Nearly two years ago he was fired upon while in a car in the West Bank but was only moderately wounded.

The IDF said at the time that Sadr was the target and accused him of being behind two shooting incidents. The Israeli army also said Sadr was planning a terror attack at Be'er Sheva and a kidnapping of an Israeli soldier at Hebron.

Israel Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, at a meeting with U.S. envoy John Wolf, said terror attacks were continuing despite the cease-fire. He called Hebron a "ticking time bomb," which he said Israeli forces had disarmed.

Mofaz, however, said Israel remains committed to the Middle East road map.

Dahlan calls for Israeli restraint

Wolf said he was pleased to hear Mofaz's commitment to the road map and said the United States will continue to press the Palestinian leadership to move forward on all fronts, especially security.

The Palestinian National Authority warned that Israel's military actions on Palestinians are "serious violations of the road map by Israel (which) are likely to blow up all the efforts that the PNA has done and is doing to maintain the cease-fire and truce and might even open the door wide for renewal of the bloody confrontation that has wrecked the region in the last three years."

Palestinian Minister of Internal Security Mohammad Dahlan called on the United States "to act as soon as possible in order to restrain the irresponsible moves and acts of the Israeli army."

Mofaz and Dahlan are planning to meet Thursday night, according to Palestinian sources.

Also in the West Bank, Israeli troops overnight demolished the home of Islam Kafatsha, the suicide bomber who carried out this week's attack near the Jewish settlement of Ariel. That bombing killed one Israeli and critically wounded two others.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad; Izzedine al Qassam, the militant wing of Hamas; and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the militant wing of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah party, have each carried out attacks on Israeli civilians and Israeli military targets.


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