‘Peace partner:’ Yes, we’re doing the shooting

By Aaron Klein

President Barack Obama (R) walks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas after a meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington on September 1, 2010. This was one of several meetings between the President and Middle East Leaders in advance of the opening of the first direct talks in two years between Israel and the Palestinian Authority scheduled to begin at the State Department in Washington, D.C. tomorrow. UPI/Kevin Dietsch Photo via Newscom

JERUSALEM – A cell of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the so-called military wing of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah organization, called WND today to claim responsibility for a shooting attack that targeted two Israeli civilians.

The two Israelis, both reportedly in their 30s, were wounded, one seriously, in the drive-by shooting in the West Bank, one day after a similar attack left four Israeli civilians dead.

The attacks come on the eve of a Washington summit organized by President Obama aimed at reopening direct negotiations between Israel and the PA to create a Palestinian state. The summit kicked off today.

A Fatah cell, calling itself the Al-Namir cells of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, claimed in a statement issued to WND that today’s shooting was “part of a series of more attacks to come.”

High-placed sources in both Fatah and the Al Aqsa Martrys Brigades said the cell involved in today’s attack was a renegade Fatah cell that opposed the opening of negotiations with Israel. The sources claimed the cell was not coordinating with the political leadership of Fatah or of the PA.

The sources said today’s attack was planned and carried out by renegade Fatah fighters along with Hamas and the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad.

An official in Fatah’s Preventative Security Services in Ramallah confirmed to WND his security forces are looking for two Fatah gunmen as well as Hamas members suspected of carrying out today’s attack.

Israeli security officials, meanwhile, told WND they are also suspecting breakaway Fatah members along with Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

The Israeli security officials noted that some members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades last week threatened to protest the PA’s opening of talks with Israel by carrying out terrorist attacks.

The threat, the Israeli security officials say, led to an Israeli crackdown last week of some members of Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

The Israeli security officials revealed to WND that last week Israeli forces arrested two Fatah members suspected of planning attacks against Israelis. The arrests were not released to the news media.

Fatah sources confirmed last week’s arrests to WND. The Fatah sources identified those arrested as Steven Anabtawi and Wazir Issa – both members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. The arrests occurred at the al-Bidan checkpoint near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, the sources said.

Today’s attack, meanwhile, occurred on an Israeli road just east of the Fatah stronghold of Ramallah.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Palestinian gunmen ambushed the Israeli car, which was riddled with bullets.

Preliminary reports said the attack was a drive-by shooting, executed in a similar fashion to yesterday’s attack.

The victims are a couple. A man aged around 30 was listed in moderate-to-serious condition, sustaining a gunshot wound to the knee, while the woman, also about 30, was lightly injured.

Hamas claimed responsibility for yesterday’s deadly shooting attack that killed two Jewish men and two women, one of whom was pregnant.

WND reported the attack took place on a road where the Israeli government removed staffed anti-terror checkpoints in line with requests from the Obama administration.