Palestinians vow revenge after Gaza killings

 

Israel's killing of six Palestinians in the Gaza Strip drew threats of revenge today from militants defying President Yasser Arafat's call to halt attacks on Israelis.

The six men were killed in confrontations yesterday.

"We will pursue the attacks and painful blows against the Zionist enemy occupying our land," activists of the Popular Resistance Committee chanted at the funeral of one of its leaders who was among the six killed.

The committee, which includes members of Mr Arafat's Fatah and the militant Hamas and Islamic Jihad organizations, said Mr Ismael Abu al-Qumsan, its leader in the northern Gaza Strip, and two other gunmen were killed in a shootout with Israeli soldiers.

The army said its forces killed another three Palestinians in a separate incident in Gaza yesterday. An army spokesman called the men "terrorists" and said they were shot as they approached a military vehicle at twilight.

He said soldiers found knives on their bodies. Palestinians had no information on their identity.

The violence broke a two-week lull that began after Mr Arafat, under intense international pressure to rein in groups behind suicide bombings in Israel, called for a cease-fire and his security forces began rounding up dozens of militants as Israel has demanded.