soldier escorts pal capt.
(photo credit: AP)
A car carrying five Hamas members near Gaza City on Sunday night was hit by an IAF missile, wounding five people, including an eight-year-old girl. None of the injuries was life-threatening. The operatives, who were the targets of the strike escaped the massive blast caused by the large amount of explosives transported in the vehicle.
Hamas officials confirmed that the vehicle was filled with explosives.
The incident occurred a day after the IDF withdrew from the northern part of the Gaza Strip following three days of fierce fighting that left some 50 Palestinians dead as of Sunday. Infantry units were preparing for a new incursion meant to keep Palestinian gunmen and Kassam rocket teams off-guard.
Also late Sunday night, IDF artillery fired shells into southern Gaza, targeting terror operatives in the area.
"We will operate wherever we decide to," a military source said Sunday. "The Palestinians need to understand that they are not immune from our operations and that we can go anywhere we want to inside Gaza."
The IDF, the source said, would carry out rapid strikes, entering and exiting Gaza to avoid getting bogged down there. "We will continue to deal the Hamas speedy and harsh blows," the source said. "Our operations will continue to surprise them."
On Thursday, Givati and Golani infantry battalions entered northern Gaza and retook control of three settlements evacuated during last summer's disengagement. They pulled out on Saturday.
Approximately 70 Palestinians have been killed since the IDF opened Operation Summer Rains two weeks ago to retrieve kidnapped Cpl. Gilad Shalit, captured during an attack on his tank near Kibbutz Kerem Shalom.
Despite the army's operations, Kassam rockets continued to hit Sderot on Sunday. One scored a direct hit on a home, wounding four people. A man in his 40s sustained shrapnel wounds to his chest and underwent surgery at Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon. The other three victims were also evacuated to Barzilai, suffering from shock.
Later Sunday, an IAF airstrike missed a car carrying members of a Hamas Kassam rocket crew in Rafah and killed a bystander instead, Palestinian health officials said. The victim was identified as Bilal Sliman Rabah, 18, a clerk at a supermarket in Rafah.
Before dawn Sunday, IAF aircraft struck a group of armed Palestinians near the Karni crossing in the central Strip, wounding three of them, according to Palestinian reports. In addition, IAF missiles hit the headquarters of the Fatah-affiliated Abu Rish Brigades amid the ruins of the former Jewish settlement of Neveh Dekalim.
The IAF also destroyed a bridge in the northern Gaza Strip, in an effort to make it harder for Kassam crew to reach launch sites.
Later still, five people - including an eight-year-old girl - were wounded after missiles struck a car carrying five Hamas operatives near Gaza City. The operatives escaped the car before the missiles struck. The IDF said that the car was packed with explosives, which led to a series of large secondary explosions.
Seperately on Sunday, the IDF released the results of its inquiry into the death last Thursday of St.-Sgt. Yehuda Basel, which found that the Golani soldier - the first casualty of Operation Summer Rains - had been shot and killed by fellow IDF troops. The IDF expressed regret but stressed that the soldiers involved were in the middle of a firefight with gunmen when Bassel was shot.
Basel's family later told Channel 1 that they did not hold the soldier who shot their son responsible for Basel's death, rather, they asserted that the blame was on the Palestinians who forced the IDF into battle. They expressed an interest in meeting the soldier so that they could embrace him.
Channel 2 reported Sunday that a commission headed by Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland investigating the circumstances of the attack on Shalit's tank on June 25 would not recommend disciplinary action against Gaza Division commanders. Eiland had been asked by IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz to investigate the army's apparent failure to foresee and prevent the attack.