News / Middle East

Explosive Devices Found on Israeli Beaches

Two barrels of explosives have been found on Israeli beaches, as the Palestinian militant group Hamas vowed revenge on Israel for the killing of one of its founding members.

Israeli security officials say the barrels were found Monday after they washed ashore near the towns of Ashdod and Ashkelon, south of Tel Aviv.  Bomb-disposal experts destroyed the explosives.

Police are investigating whether the explosives came from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, and whether they were supposed to detonate near Israeli navy ships.

The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad and the armed wing of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement have claimed responsibility for the attack.

Israeli officials have refused to confirm or deny involvement in the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a founding member of Hamas' armed wing.

Al-Mabhouh was assassinated last month in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.  On Sunday, Hamas said al-Mabhouh was one of its key weapons-suppliers in its long-running conflict with Israel.

Separately, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat says President Abbas will agree to resume peace talks with Israel, if the Jewish state agrees to a three-month total freeze on settlement construction.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered a partial 10-month freeze that does not include a halt to settlement construction in East Jerusalem.  Palestinian leaders want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

In other news, the Israeli military reprimanded two top officers for approving an artillery strike near a U.N. compound during Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip a year ago.  But the military denied an Israeli media report that it had disciplined the officers for approving the use of incendiary white phosphorous shells in the strike.

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