Israeli Aircraft Strikes Hamas Terrorists
The tenuous cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinian Authority appears over, as Israel today bombed a Hamas terrorist group firing mortars at a Jewish settlement.
An Israeli aircraft on Wednesday fired at a group of Hamas militants who were preparing to shoot mortar shells at Jewish settlement, the army and witnesses said, the first such airstrike since a fragile cease-fire was declared in February. The Israeli strike, combined with a recent increase in militant attacks on Gaza settlements, strained the truce and threatened to derail efforts to restart peace moves.
The airstrike came minutes after militants had fired four mortar shells at the Gush Katif settlement bloc. The army said it spotted two Palestinians preparing to fire more mortars when it attacked.
IAF fires missile at mortar firing cell (Jerusalem Post)
An IAF helicopter gunship on Wednesday fired a missile at a Hamas terror cell believed responsible for firing mortar shells at Gush Katif settlements from a cemetery in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis. Initial Palestinian reports claim one terrorist was seriously wounded and the other sustained light wounds. The aerial raid, the first such attack since the begining of the year, came in response to the firing of at least four mortar shells at Gush Katif settlements earlier on Wednesday.
Settlers said at least seven mortar shells were fired but the IDF said it was only able to confirm four landings and was still searching for others.
The mortar barrage was apparently a response to the death of a Hamas operative overnight near Rafah.
Hamas gunman killed in southern Gaza (Reuters)
A Hamas gunman was killed along the Gaza-Egypt border on Wednesday, drawing mortar attacks on Jewish settlements in a surge of violence that put severe strain on a three-month old ceasefire. Another militant was seriously wounded in an Israeli missile strike. The army said he was part of a squad that had been preparing to fire rockets or mortars into a settlement in what Hamas called revenge attacks for the earlier death. The violence further tested a de facto ceasefire agreed by Hamas and other militant groups after the Palestinian Authority and Israel declared a truce in February.
The circumstances of the gunman’s death near the border overnight were disputed. Hamas said he was killed during a patrol when a grenade or small explosive device was launched by soldiers. The Israeli army said its forces could not have been behind his death because they did not fire explosive devices during a brief exchange with gunmen. The army said troops had come under attack from automatic gunfire and anti-tank rockets. “If he was killed by an explosive device then it didn’t come from us as we only fired from automatic rifles. It must have come from the Palestinians,” a spokesman said, suggesting a bomb the gunman was trying to plant may have detonated prematurely.
A shame, but hardly surprising. Until the Palestinian Authority puts Hamas out of business, there is no possibility of peace.