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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Arabs from Gaza Fire 20 Rockets at South; 4 Civilians Hurt - Israel kills Gaza rocket crewman in 2nd day of clashes

Source: The Jerusalem Post
By JPost Staff and Yaakov Lappin

Palestinian terrorists from the Gaza Strip fired at least 20 rockets and mortars into Israel early Sunday morning, injuring four civilians. The barrage came amid two IAF air strikes overnight Saturday targeted a weapons manufacturing site, two weapons storage facilities and two rocket launching sites in the northern part of the territory.

The fresh launches brings the total number of rocket and mortar attacks to over 50, and marks a serious escalation in Israel's South. All of the wounded Israelis suffered light wounds from shrapnel, and were evacuated to the Soroka and Barzilai hospitals.

"The IDF will not tolerate any attempt to harm Israeli civilians or IDF soldiers, and will continue to act against any organization initiating terror attacks against the State of Israel," the IDF said following the second of two air strikes overnight. Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported one Palestinian was killed and seven civilians were injured in the bombings overnight.

Since Saturday, Palestinian rockets triggered air raid sirens in Ashkelon, Ashdod, Gan Yavne and smaller communities. At least eight long-range rockets were included in the barrage, landing at Ashkelon, Ashdod, Sderot, the Eshkol Regional Council area and the Be'er Tuviya area.

The Iron Dome anti-rocket system intercepted at least one rocket headed for Ashdod, while another rocket hit north of the city, failing to cause injuries or damages. The blasts were heard for many kilometers around.

The violence was renewed when terrorists fired an anti-tank missile at an IDF Jeep carrying out a routine patrol on the Israeli side of the border on Saturday, striking the vehicle directly and injuring four soldiers.

One soldier was in serious condition with a head injury, one was moderately wounded, and two were lightly injured. They were airlifted to the Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba.

Immediately afterwards, tanks opened fire on the area from which the missile was fired. Tanks also fired on pre-selected targets in the Sa'ajiya area of Gaza near Nahal Oz. Palestinian sources said four people were killed in the return fire, and 25 others were injured.

Islamic Jihad is believed to be behind the anti-tank attack. The IDF views the incident as a severe escalation, and as part of a wider, stepped-up terrorist initiative to target its forces along the border.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz held an evaluation following the incident. "This is the second serious incident in a few days along the border," a senior army source said.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak, responding to the anti-tank missile attack, said, "The IDF responded severely to the incident, and additional responses will be examined in the coming days. We will not accept the escalating attacks on the border."

Home Front Command Minister Avi Dichter said that Israel must restore its military deterrence against Gaza, saying that "this is an unbearable and unreasonable situation. Israel cannot accept a daily terrorist drizzle from Gaza."

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum blamed Israel for the incident, saying, "The occupation's targeting of civilians was a grave escalation that must not pass in silence," and adding that "resistance must be reinforced in order to block the aggression."

In an separate incident at another location, four people were wounded in an Israeli air strike in the town of Khan Younis.

The incident came days after terrorists in Gaza blew up a massive tunnel they had dug from southern Gaza toward Israel. No one was injured in that incident. but a jeep that was in the area was blown sideways by the force of the explosion.

The blast may have been set off by remote control.

Israel kills Gaza rocket crewman 

in 2nd day of clashes

Source: Reuters

(Reuters) - An Israeli air strike killed a Palestinian militant in the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip on Sunday as a surge in cross-border violence entered its second day, local officials said.

Islamic Jihad, a smaller faction than Hamas which often operates independently, identified the dead man as one of its own, saying he was a member of a rocket crew hit by an Israeli missile in Jabalya, northern Gaza.

The Israeli military confirmed carrying out an air strike in the area. The death brought to six the number of Palestinians killed by Israel since four of its troops were hurt in a missile attack on their jeep along the Gaza boundary fence.

Islamic Jihad said it had fired 70 short-range rockets and mortar bombs across the border since Saturday, salvoes which drove Israeli residents to blast shelters. At least one Israeli, in the town of Sderot, was wounded, ambulance workers said.

Israel described the jeep ambush as part of a Palestinian strategy of trying to curb its countermeasures against possible cross-border infiltration. Israeli forces often mount hunts for tunnels and landmines on the inside of the Gaza boundary, creating a no-go zone for Palestinians.

"Of course we don't accept their attempt to change the rules," Defence Minister Ehud Barak told Israel's Army Radio.

"The essence of the struggle is over the fence. We intend to enable the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) to work not just on our side but on the other side as well."

Palestinians said four of Saturday's dead were civilians hit by an Israeli tank shell while paying respects at a crowded mourning tent in Gaza's Shijaia neighbourhood. Israel denies targeting civilians.

The bloodshed puts internal pressure on Hamas, which, though hostile to the Jewish state, has sat out some of the recent rounds of violence as it tried to consolidate its Gaza rule and reach out to neighbouring Egypt and other foreign powers.

Israel blames Hamas for any attacks emanating from Gaza, but has shown little appetite for a major sweep of the territory which might strain its own fraught ties to the new Islamist-rooted government in Cairo.

(Writing by Dan Williams; Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; Editing by Todd Eastham)

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