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Wednesday, 14 August, 2002, 21:35 GMT 22:35 UK
Israel kills local Hamas leader
Jarrar's remains are examined by a relative
Israel claimed Jarrar was planning a "mega attack"
Israeli forces have killed a local leader of the Hamas militant group during what they say was an operation to arrest him in the West Bank village of Tubas.

Nasser Jarrar, 44, died when Israeli tanks bombarded a house in the village after a demand for his surrender set off a gun battle.


These people have more value alive than dead because you can talk to them and find out information

Israeli army spokesman
A young Palestinian was killed in the gunfire and his relatives are accusing the Israeli army of using him as a human shield - a charge they deny.

The Israeli army said that Jarrar, the head of Hamas's military wing in the Jenin area, had been planning a "mega attack" on a high-rise building in Israel when he was killed on Wednesday.

The dead Hamas leader had been wheelchair-bound since last year when he lost his legs and an arm after a bomb he was reportedly planting exploded prematurely.

Israeli military sources said that a number of militants inside the house had opened fire from within after troops surrounded it.

'Negotiator'

Nidal Abu Mohsen, 19, was shot in the head when he tried to enter the house to negotiate with Jarrar after repeated Israeli loudspeaker calls for his surrender failed, the Israeli army said.

"There was a Palestinian at the spot and we thought it would be best if a Palestinian would try and tell Jarrar to hand himself over peacefully," an Israeli army spokesman said.

But Mohsen's family told the French news agency AFP that the young man, who was said to have had no political affiliations, was used as a "human shield" by the Israelis.

The Israeli military spokesman insisted that Jarrar had been informed that it was Mohsen who was coming in to talk.

He added that the aim of the operation had been to arrest Jarrar:

"These people have more value alive than dead because you can talk to them and find out information."

The house was flattened by Israeli army bulldozers after the tank attack and Israeli sources did not rule out that the bodies of other militants could be lying in the rubble.

A suspected militant lightly wounded during the gun battle was arrested by soldiers and taken to an Israeli hospital.

Revenge pledge

A senior Hamas leader in Gaza, Abdel-Aziz Rantissi, warned that there would be reprisals for Jarrar's death.

Hamas militants
Hamas is one of Israel's deadliest enemies
"The Zionist enemy will pay a heavy price for this crime which they committed against a crippled person," he told Reuters news agency.

Israel has pursued a controversial policy of pre-emptive strikes on suspected Palestinian militants it accuses of planning attacks against Israelis.

Last month the Israeli army killed Sheikh Salah Shahada, founder of Hamas's military wing, along with 14 others including nine children in a missile strike on a residential building.

An attack on the Hebrew University in Jerusalem earlier this month, which killed seven people, was claimed by Hamas to be in revenge for Shahada's killing.


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14 Aug 02 | Middle East
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