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Israeli Troops Kill Hamas Militant in West Bank - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The mother of Iyad Shilbaya, a 38-year-old local leader of the armed wing of the Islamist movement Hamas, mourns at home on September 17, 2010. (AFP)

The mother of Iyad Shilbaya, a 38-year-old local leader of the armed wing of the Islamist movement Hamas, mourns at home on September 17, 2010. (AFP)

JERUSALEM, (AP) — Israeli troops killed a Hamas militant Friday during an arrest raid in the West Bank, where violence has increased since the start of new Mideast peace talks this month.

The Islamic group, which killed four Israeli settlers in a Sept. 1 shooting just as the talks were getting under way, threatened to avenge the militant’s death. Hamas opposes the peace talks and has threatened to use violence to derail them.

Israel’s military said soldiers were trying to arrest Iyad Abu Shilbaya, 37, early Friday in the town of Tulkarem when he ran at them, ignoring orders to halt. The military said troops feared he had a weapon and shot him.

Abu Shilbaya had served time in Israeli jails in the past and was wanted for “recent activity,” the military said. No additional details were provided.

The man’s brother, Moetasim Abu Shilbaya, said troops burst into his brother’s house around 3 a.m. and killed him in his bedroom. A floor mat in the room and the bed were stained with blood.

Abu Shilbaya called the killing an “assassination.” He said his brother was a Hamas political activist, not an armed militant.

But a Hamas military spokesman in Gaza, Abu Obeida, confirmed the man was a member of the group’s armed wing.

“The blood of our martyr will be a curse that will follow the occupation and the traitors,” he said.

The word traitors referred to Hamas’ rivals in the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, which has ruled only the West Bank since losing control of the other Palestinian territory, the Gaza Strip, to Hamas militants in 2007.

In the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority wields only limited power under Israel’s overall security control.

In the past, the West Bank’s Palestinian leadership has criticized Israel for carrying out arrest raids in Palestinian cities, saying those actions undermine its own authority. Israel says Palestinian forces are still unable to fully assume control for security.

Both the Palestinian Authority and Israel have carried out West Bank crackdowns against Hamas, which is backed by Iran and remains committed to Israel’s destruction.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held a second round of peace talks this week, accompanied by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The talks face a major obstacle at the end of the month, when a slowdown in Israeli settlement construction is set to expire. The Palestinians say they will halt the talks if settlement construction resumes in full, and the U.S. has urged Israel to extend the slowdown.

There are signs the sides might be close to a compromise that would allow the talks to continue, but the leaders still need to reach agreement on the thorniest issues dividing them. Those include the route of a border between Israel and a future Palestinian state, the fate of Palestinian refugees and a formula for sharing Jerusalem.

A Palestinian relative of Hamas member Iyad Abu Shilbaya reacts in the family house after Shilbaya was killed by Israeli troops in the Nur Shams refugee camp near the West Bank city of Tulkarem, Friday Sept. 17, 2010. (AP)

A Palestinian relative of Hamas member Iyad Abu Shilbaya reacts in the family house after Shilbaya was killed by Israeli troops in the Nur Shams refugee camp near the West Bank city of Tulkarem, Friday Sept. 17, 2010. (AP)

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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