Murders make Israel shudder

THE killing by Palestinian gunmen on Saturday of at least two Israeli hikers in a tranquil desert beauty spot near Jericho has sent shudders through the small West Bank town. Excitement about peace has been growing there since the peace deal, and Israelis have started to visit the town again for the first time in many years.

The bodies of two Israelis, shot dead and with their throats cut, were recovered late on Saturday in Wadi Qelt, a rocky valley near the Mount of Temptation.

On Saturday night, police looking for a third person reported missing combed the hills, which are marked out with crosses as sites of Christian pilgrimage. Floodlights lit up the craggy landscape which cradles two ancient Greek Orthodox monasteries visited by thousands of foreign tourists every year.

The attack was clearly intended by Palestinian opponents of the peace deal to destabilise negotiations due to start on Wednesday by striking near Jericho, which, with Gaza, is to be granted self-rule first. The deaths will have the instant effect of deterring Israelis from visiting the occupied territories they might now have believed to be safe.

The Israeli army said yesterday that four assailants carried out the Wadi Qelt killings, which came as the Prime Minister left Israel for a visit to China. The fundamentalist Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine has claimed responsibility for shooting dead three Israelis.

Shimon Peres, the Israeli Foreign Minister, said: 'The war continues. But in the past it was a war against Israel and today it is a war against peace with Israel. I only hope the day is not far off that a Palestinian police will be formed and it will itself arrest the murderers and the criminals.

'Those who shot our two hikers tried to harm the effort and the Arab consensus which today has a clear majority for making peace with Israel.'

The victims were named as Dror Forer, 25, and Eran Bachar, 23. 'Suddenly I heard two shots and I saw a person fall,' said Dror Neufield, a tour guide. 'I saw another man who came running to look at the dead man, apparently to make sure he was hit, and then he hid between rocks in the wadi.'

Israeli security sources said information received over the past few weeks indicated militants were planning an attack near Jericho to demonstrate their opposition to the deal. Troops dispersed a protest by several dozen Jewish settlers angry at the attack who blocked the Jericho-Jerusalem road near Wadi Qelt by burning tyres and wood.

A 'certain number' of Palestinians opposed to the PLO- Israeli accord have been arrested in Tunis and are being 'investigated', following the discovery of a plot to assassinate Yasser Arafat, writes Safa Haeri.

News of the arrests came as the Tunisian government cut telephone lines to many prominent Palestinians, including Bassam Abu Sharif, a top Arafat adviser, in an attempt to recover money owed for unpaid phone bills.

Palestinian sources said the decision affected lines to PLO offices, residences and guest houses, including those of Mr Arafat. They say Tunis wants 'at least some part of the millions of US dollars' the PLO owes for phone bills.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine