Gaza rubble 298.88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Backed by attack helicopters, IDF infantry and armor swept into the Gaza Strip early Thursday morning and killed six Palestinians, five from the same family, during clashes in Khan Yunis.
In an operation dubbed "Rain Man," troops from Givati Brigade's Tzabar Battalion, together with Armored and Engineering Corps forces, launched the predawn raid to search for weapon warehouses and factories. The operation was the largest the IDF carried out inside Gaza since the war in Lebanon ended in August.
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At least three Palestinians were killed and 10 wounded, including an eight-year-old girl, in a failed IAF targeted strike against a senior member of Hamas's armed wing, Izzadin al-Kassam, in the Shajaiyeh section of Gaza City.
The IAF struck the house of the senior operative but his condition was unclear. The IDF said the owner of the house, Ashraf Farawana, was involved in attacks against Israel and supplying weapons to Hamas operatives.
In response, Palestinians fired Kassams at Sderot, one of which caused a blackout in the city. Earlier, two rockets were fired at communities in the Western Negev.
During the morning raid, an IDF force came under heavy fire from Palestinian gunmen. Four Hamas gunmen and a 14-year-old boy, all relatives, were killed in ensuing battles. Another Hamas operative was killed in the afternoon when the approached a military force under the cover of a large crowd.
Palestinian Authority security officials said that the four Hamas men and the boy were killed when an IAF aircraft fired two missiles at a crowd in the village of Abasan, east of Khan Yunis. The crowd had gathered outside a building in which IDF troops had taken up positions, they said.
The IDF said troops and aircraft operating in the area overnight fired at and wounded more than 10 Palestinians, all of them armed. During the fighting, the IDF said, anti-tank missiles, mortars and explosive devices were fired and hurled at the Givati force. The army has been carrying out an offensive in the Gaza Strip since June, when Hamas terrorists tunneled under the border fence and captured Cpl. Gilad Shalit.
Meanwhile. IDF troops continued to operate inside near Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip in search of terror tunnels.
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