December 11, 2001
By Matthew Kalman and Donna Leinwand, USA TODAY
JERUSALEM — The European Union labeled the Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad "terrorist networks" for the first time Monday. The EU demanded that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat dismantle the groups and order an end to armed attacks on Israel.
The decision by the EU to add Hamas and Islamic Jihad to its list of international terrorist groups — a list that also includes Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda organization — puts Europe more closely in line with U.S. policy, which strongly supports Israel. The move, Israelis say, also indicates that Western nations are united in their frustration with Arafat.
"I think certainly the American effort here and the terrorist attacks last week were eye-opening" to European foreign ministers, said Danny Seaman, director of Israel's government press office. "Many of them are coming to the conclusion that Arafat isn't doing anything."
Palestinian Cabinet Minister Ziad Abu Zayad said the EU is mistaken in its impression of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. He said the two organizations should be regarded as Islamic resistance to Israeli occupation: "These groups are not international terrorist groups."
Israel didn't escape criticism Monday from the EU, which often has blamed the Israelis for violence in the region that has claimed nearly 1,000 lives in 14 months. The EU foreign ministers called on Israel to withdraw its forces from Palestinian-ruled areas, freeze the size of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza and end its practice of having security forces assassinate suspected Palestinian terrorists.
Meanwhile, violence on both sides continued. Israeli security forces killed a Palestinian teenager and toddler Monday in an attempt to assassinate an alleged Islamic Jihad terrorist in Hebron in the West Bank.
In the attack, Israeli helicopters fired missiles at a car carrying Mohammed Ayoub Sidr, 26, a senior leader of Islamic Jihad who Israel says is responsible for suicide bombings in Jerusalem and shooting attacks near Hebron. Sidr was injured in the attack. Burhan Himuni, 3, who was riding in the car, and Shadi Arafe, 13, who was in a taxi nearby, were killed.
In the past 2 weeks, Israeli civilians have been hit by a wave of suicide bomb attacks.
Islamic Jihad took responsibility for an attack Sunday in Haifa that injured 29 people. Hamas admitted responsibility for suicide bombings in Jerusalem and Haifa that killed 25 a week earlier. Israel retaliated after last week's bombings with fighter-jet attacks on Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Islamic Jihad installations.
Also Monday, as U.S. envoy Anthony Zinni met with Palestinian and Israeli leaders in an attempt to restart peace negotiations, Palestinian forces fired several mortars into Israeli settlements in the southern Gaza Strip.