Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - A senior Islamic Jihad leader recently declared that suicide terror attacks have had a "positive" effect on Israeli society and has urged followers to keep up the deadly attacks on Israel
"It strikes at the feeling of security and places a threat deep in the Israeli heart," said Abdualla Alshami in an interview with the Islamic Jihad movement's official website earlier this month.
"In addition, it frustrates the plans of settlement and immigration to Israel... it prods Israelis to move abroad, it hurts the Israeli economy, and brings the battle to the heart of the enemy," a press release on the Israeli army website quotes Alshami as having stated.
"The future of the Hebrew State [Israel] is currently in danger due to its inability to deal with suicide attacks," he said.
"We will not cease with our Intifada ... we are confident that it will achieve its goal, which at its minimum is pressuring the Zionist enemy to retreat from the territories it conquered in 1967, and all of the area of Palestine," he added.
On its website, Islamic Jihad presented research of the armed conflict and claimed responsibility for killing 126 Israelis in terror attacks and injuring another 742 during what it called the "armed intifadah" which began in September 2000.
Security zones planned
Israeli troops killed several wanted militants as they resisted arrest in separate incidents in the West Bank on Thursday and apprehended several others while troops in the Gaza Strip thwarted an infiltration attempt into a Jewish settlement there.
A Hebrew newspaper reported that the Israeli army is establishing "special security zones" around Jewish settlements in the West Bank to protect residents from possible terrorist penetrations into the communities.
The security zones are said to encompass several hundred meters beyond the boundaries of existing settlements and will be included inside an additional fenced security zone where special rules of engagement would allow soldiers to fire on anyone who tries to infiltrate, Ha'aretz reported on Thursday.
Quoting an unnamed security official, the report said that the goal of the zones would be to distance any terror activity from homes in the community. Currently, many border fences are only a few meters from civilian homes.
The Israeli army had no immediate comment on the report.
Palestinians are already pushing for the evacuation of Jewish communities from the West Bank as a condition for a halt to violence. More than 200,000 Israelis live in communities in those areas, which many consider to be their Biblical inheritance.
A leader in Islamic Jihad's military wing in the West Bank was killed in a fierce gun battle with Israeli troops who were dispatched to arrest him.
Soldiers who went to arrest Hamza Abu Roub, the head of Islamic Jihad in Kabatia, south of Jenin, approached his home and called upon the occupants to surrender, an army spokesperson said.
After all the residents had left the building, Abu Roub opened fire and threw two stun grenades at the soldiers. During the exchange of fire, Abu Roub was killed and four Israeli soldiers were wounded, one of them seriously. Later, troops blew up Abu Roub's two-story house.
Elsewhere in the West Bank, one Hamas militant was killed and another arrested when undercover Israeli forces, already on their way to arrest the men, stopped a suspicious car in Ramallah.
One of the militants disembarked from the vehicle and opened fire on troops who returned fire, killing the militant. Troops found two M-16 automatic rifles, magazines and two pistols in the car, an army spokesman said.
Palestinian sources were quoted as saying that an unarmed bystander was also killed in the exchange of fire. Military sources said that troops shot at a Palestinian who was threatening them with a rock in an ensuing riot.
In Tulkarem, Israeli troops attempted to arrest a wanted militant named in press reports as Jamal Nadr, 28, head of an Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades cell in Tulkarem.
When the suspect tried to escape, soldiers called for him to halt and fired warning shots, military sources said. When he continued to flee, the soldiers opened fire and killed him.
During the night, massive exchanges of fire broke out in the Casbah area of Nablus. Two wanted Tanzim militants fired on Israeli troops and threw a fragmentation grenade at them. Israeli troops returned fire, killing the militants. One Israeli soldier was lightly wounded there.
Palestinian sources reported that a teenager was also killed by army fire in Nablus. An army spokesperson said that troops had returned fire at a gunman and had hit him.
Overnight, 14 militants were arrested throughout the West Bank. During the last four months, Israel has arrested some 1,800 militants in the West Bank - almost 400 of since the beginning of December.
Despite the military activity, there were no curfews in Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarem and Ramallah, the army said.
A day after Christmas, troops remained on the outskirts of Bethlehem and no curfew had been re-imposed in the city. Residents there said earlier that they feared the army would impose another curfew on the city following the holiday.
Israeli troops entered Bethlehem following a suicide bus bombing in Jerusalem last month that left 11 people dead.
In the Gaza Strip, overnight, soldiers prevented an infiltration into the Gaza Strip settlement of Netzarim.
According to an army spokesman, two terrorists approached the security fence of the community - an area off limits to Palestinians. Soldiers opened fire on them, killing the two militants. The two terrorists had been wearing camouflage uniforms and were carrying two AK-47 assault rifles, magazines and grenades.
Later, two mortar shells were fired at another Israeli community in the Gaza Strip, but there were no injuries.