Soldier wounded in Jenin refugee camp

By JOSH BRANNON
April 4, 2007 07:43

IDF, Palestinians clash along Gaza fence as troops pursue Islamic Jihad cell.

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An IDF soldier was shot and moderately wounded before dawn Wednesday when Palestinians fired on an elite paratrooper unit as it lay in ambush in Jenin's refugee camp. The soldier was treated on the scene by army medics and evacuated to Afula's Emek Medical Center, where he was listed in good condition, IDF officials said. According to an Army Radio report, the soldiers entered the cramped alleyways of the camp late Tuesday night and set up an ambush to strike at the cells of armed Palestinians that roam freely in the streets there. The Israeli force was apparently spotted and gunmen opened fire from the window of an adjacent apartment building, striking one of the soldiers in the shoulder. The soldiers returned fire, and there were no reports of Palestinian casualties in the exchange. On the southern front, IDF soldiers entered Gaza Wednesday afternoon in pursuit of an Islamic Jihad terror cell in the first action of its kind since a cease-fire was declared in November. IDF officials said troops from Givati's Shaked infantry regiment identified and pursued gunmen who were spotted as they planted explosive devices near the northern Gaza Strip security fence in the latest attempt to target IDF vehicles and soldiers. The impromptu incursion signified a change in the IDF's rules of engagement in responding to Palestinian violations of the cease-fire. Last week, soldiers on the Israeli side of the border identified and fired on an Islamic Jihad rocket cell preparing to launch Kassams into Israel from a northern Gaza beach, the first preemptive IDF strike against terrorists within the Strip since the cease-fire went into effect. However, on Wednesday, when the soldiers saw the gunmen planting explosives, they pursued them well within the Gaza security fence, eventually surrounding the cell in a home outside the town of Beit Hanun. A gunfight erupted in which one terrorist was killed and two others were wounded, one of whom was arrested and taken into Israel, Channel 2 reported. Two explosive charges were detonated against the soldiers during the exchange, the army said, but no soldiers were reported wounded in the incident. Palestinian officials said IDF soldiers initially prevented Palestinian ambulances from reaching the scene to evacuate the wounded. The gunmen belong to the terrorist group Islamic Jihad, the officials said. Islamic Jihad refused in November to sign on to a Palestinian cease-fire with Israel, and since then it has claimed responsibility for numerous Kassam rocket attacks and attempted bombings of IDF patrols along the security fence. As a response to the continued violations, Defense Minister Amir Peretz on Sunday granted the IDF permission to renew pinpoint operations against terrorists within the Gaza Strip, effectively ending its months-old unilateral cease-fire in the South. Meanwhile, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) announced Wednesday afternoon that it had arrested the head of the Tanzim in Jericho, Jihad Latif Sa'id Abu Haniyeh. Abu Haniyeh, 25, was allegedly involved in the planning and execution of terrorist attacks against Israelis. Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.


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