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Israel Not Deterred By Retaliation Threats Over Assassination Policy - 2001-08-01

Israel's security cabinet has approved the continuing assassination of suspected Palestinian terrorists. The approval came despite warnings the policy could provoke retaliatory attacks from the Palestinians, as well as condemnation from many countries around the world

Expressing its determination to get the so-called "snake heads" of terrorism, the security cabinet backed the army's continued killing of top Palestinian militant leaders.

The most recent demonstration of Israel's assassination policy came on Tuesday, when an Israeli military helicopter fired at a building in the West Bank city of Nablus. Eight Palestinians died in the attack, including two leaders the Islamic resistance movement Hamas and two young children. The Israeli government later expressed its regret for the deaths of the children.

More than 100,000 Palestinians marched through Nablus Wednesday for the funerals of the eight.

A member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Hanan Ashrawi, called on the international community to do something to halt the Israeli army's killings of Palestinian activists. "This is a unilateral war," Ms. Ashrawi said, "declared by an occupying power, using military means against a captive population."

But Israeli cabinet minister Ephraim Sneh, a former army commander, strongly defended the policy against international criticism. "No one is in a position to preach to Israel," he said. "And we know exactly what other countries, Western democracies, what they did when they were combating terrorism, which threatens their capitals, their civilian populations."

Israel justified the operation in Nablus, saying the slain Hamas leaders were responsible for terrorist acts that killed dozens of Israelis and that they planned further terrorism.

Israel says the Hamas command in Nablus had bombed a disco in Tel Aviv in June, killing 21 Jews, most of them teenagers.