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Israeli TV: Settlement attack linked to Hamas

March 13, 2011 12:53 A.M. (Updated: March 13, 2011 5:09 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli analysts have speculated that Saturday's brutal attack in a Nablus settlement was carried out by fighters affiliated to Hamas.

Early Saturday morning, a three-month old baby girl, two children aged three and 11, and their parents were stabbed to death in their home in Itamar settlement.

Interviewed on Israeli TV, military experts said Hamas was likely to be involved in the attack. The Islamist group regarded Nablus as one of its bases, and had active cells in the northern West Bank city, the analysts said.

Hebrew news sites said private Israeli security companies hired to protect the settlement had neglected their duties. According to reports, the alarm on the electric fence surrounding the settlement was activated several times. When the guards did not see any infiltrators in the area, they assumed there was a technical malfunction and turned off the alarm system, news reports said.

Meanwhile, an Israeli police correspondent told Israel's Channel 2 that police have raised the alert level in all Israeli cities fearing further attacks, particularly in Jerusalem. Concerns were heightened by the upcoming Jewish festival of Purim, due to begin Friday, as well as reports of Palestinian protests calling for national unity over the next week, the correspondent said.

He said Israeli police have deployed large forces on the streets of most Israeli cities.

Channel 2's military correspondent Ronny Daniel said the army continued to raid villages around Itamar settlement and that 20 Palestinians had been arrested.

The report showed images of drones hovering over the area.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would "act vigorously to defend the Israeli population and to punish the murderers,"

President Mahmoud Abbas telephoned Netanyahu to express his regret over the murders. The Israeli premier accused the Palestinian Authority of incitement against Israel, according to a statement from Netanyahu's office

"I expect you to stop the incitement in schools, textbooks and mosques and for you to educate your children for peace as we are doing. Murdering children in their sleep is murder for its own sake," he told Abbas.

Abbas denounced "all violence against civilians, whatever the motive" in a statement.

"I am against acts of vengeance. Violence begets violence," the president added.

Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said his government rejected violence without exception.

"An infant, two children and their parents were the victims, and as we have always rejected violence against our people, we reject it against others and we condemn it.”

On Saturday evening, Netanyahu demanded a stronger condemnation of the attack from the PA.

"I am disappointed by the weak and mumbled statements. This is not how one condemns terrorism. This is not how one fights terrorism," he said.

He again accused the PA of "daily incitement" in schools, mosques and the media.

"The time has come to stop this double-talk in which the Palestinian Authority outwardly talks peace, and allows – and sometimes leads – incitement at home."

The only group to claim the attack has been an armed faction calling itself the "Imad Mughniyya Group."

However, Israeli authorities have dismissed statements from the group in the past, as it has claimed responsibility for other operations that may have been the work of others. It is believed to be linked to Fatah.

Hamas' armed wing the Al-Qassam Brigades reported the attack on its website, but while the group noted that resistance factions had the right to resist occupation under international law, it did not claim responsibility.
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