Arafat Cousin Assassinated In Gaza

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AP
About 100 masked militants stormed the heavily guarded home of Gaza's former security chief early Wednesday, dragged him out in his pajamas and killed him in a burst of gunfire.

The incident points to a power struggle and growing chaos, as the Israeli army prepares to withdraw from Gaza later this month, reports CBS News Correspondent Robert Berger.

In other developments:

  • After evacuating more than 8,000 settlers from Gaza and demolishing their homes, the Israeli army is set to remove all its forces next week. Egypt will deploy 750 troops on the Gaza border to prevent weapons smuggling, and the territory will be handed over to the Palestinian Authority by Sept. 15.
  • Israel decided to move up its Sept. 15 departure date from Gaza after an incident Tuesday in which dozens of rock-throwing Palestinian youths charged toward abandoned Israeli settlements and climbed on an Israeli tank. A Palestinian teen was killed by Israeli troops firing to keep back the crowd.
  • Israelis could be in for some painful scenes after the army leaves Gaza, reports Berger. The army did not destroy the Gaza synagogues, and they could be looted by Palestinian mobs.
  • Israel's pullout from Gaza and parts of the West Bank is having a lasting psychological impact on Jewish settler children in the West Bank. They fellow Israelis being evicted from their homes on television, and now they're having nightmares and other behavioral problems. "And kids say, 'When is it going to happen to my house, when is it going to happen to my settlement, when are police or army going to come to us, and when is the knock at the door?'" said Rabbi Chanoch Yeris.
  • Israel is proposing that the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt be closed after Israeli troops leave Gaza next week. After six months, Rafah could reopen, possibly with foreign inspectors.

    Moussa Arafat, a 65-year-old cousin of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, was killed after a 30-minute gun battle between the assailants and dozens of bodyguards. The fighting with rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles raged just a block from the headquarters of the Palestinian Preventive Security Service. The gunmen also kidnapped Arafat's oldest son, Manhal.

    The Popular Resistance Committees, a violent group made up largely of former members of the Fatah movement of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, later claimed responsibility. The group said it killed Arafat to punish him for alleged corruption after the Palestinian security forces had taken no action against him.

    "We have implemented God's law," a spokesman, Mohammed Abdel Al, told The Associated Press.

    Abbas said he would track down the killers — a pledge immediately put to the test by the bold claim of responsibility. Abdel Al said his group would resist arrest or any attempt to be disarmed. Abbas had said just a few days ago he would try to bring renegade Fatah fighters under control within three weeks.

    The killing heightened concerns that Abbas will not be able to restore order in the increasing lawless coastal strip where armed gangs control the streets. Palestinian officials said they viewed the killing as an attack on the government. Abbas convened his top security officials and Palestinian security forces were put on high alert.