Palestinians attack in disguised jeeps

March 07, 2004|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

JERUSALEM - In one of the most sophisticated assaults since the Palestinian uprising began nearly 3 1/2 years ago, Palestinian militants used vehicles painted to resemble Israeli army jeeps to ram their way into the heavily fortified main crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel yesterday.

At least four Palestinian attackers and two Palestinian police officers were killed. No Israeli casualties were reported.

In addition to the level of coordination, the attack at the Erez crossing was unusual because the three main Palestinian militant groups - Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades - claimed joint responsibility.

Nineteen Palestinian bystanders, including police officers, taxi drivers and relatives waiting for family members crossing into Gaza, were injured in the midmorning attack, according to Palestinian hospital officials.

The two Palestinian police officers who were killed apparently tried to stop the vehicles from entering the checkpoint, which consists of a long stretch of no-man's land punctuated by concrete barriers, watchtowers and other fortifications.

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