IDF forces had been in pursuit of Kawasme for a number of months, and almost caught him two weeks ago when they arrived at his hideaway - but he got away minutes before. Known as "Father of the Ticking Time Bombs," his most recent "success" was the dispatching of the terrorist to bomb the #14 Jerusalem bus ten days ago, murdering 17 people.
Special Border Guard anti-terrorism forces attempted to apprehend Kawasme in his hideaway home in Hevron last night. Armed, he attempted to shoot at the Israelis, then tried to escape, and was finally killed. On his body was found an explosives vest. Hevron has been put under partial curfew. Hamas spokesman Abdel Aziz Rantisi said that Hamas would avenge the killing.
The dead terrorist leader was responsible for the bus attack in northern Jerusalem a month ago (7 killed), the killing of a newly-married couple in Hevron a day before, and other bus bombings.
The European Union condemned Israel's action, but Prime Minister Sharon congratulated the security forces this morning "on its successful and vital operation." Official U.S. reaction to the operation was slightly different than its response to Israel's recent attempt to kill Abdel Aziz Rantisi. Secretary of State Powell did not condemn the killing, but rather said, "I regret we had an incident that could be an impediment to progress. It is still important to remain committed to moving forward."
President Bush condemned Israel for the Rantisi affair almost two weeks ago, but toned down his position following strong Congressional criticism and a perceived double standard. Representative Gary Ackerman of New York, for instance, said that Bush's rebuke of Israel might cause his critics "to think of the word 'hypocrisy.'" Ackerman also said, "How can we take certain actions in response to terrorism, and then tell others that when they do the same exact thing that it is not helpful?"
In related news, an Arab wearing a backpack who approached the gates of Morag in southern Gush Katif during the night was shot and killed by an alert IDF force. On Friday night, two Fatah terrorists were killed in a pursuit near Jenin; Fatah has promised to avenge their deaths as well. The PA did not intervene when, at their funeral, dozens of stocking-masked men fired their guns in the air and promised to murder Jews.