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(photo credit: AP [file])
IAF planes struck a Kassam rocket cell in northern Gaza Wednesday evening, moments after it had succeeded in launching two rockets into Israeli territory. Two of the three operatives were killed, the IDF said.
Both rockets struck open areas in the western Negev. Nobody was wounded in the attack, and no damage was reported.
Earlier in the day, two Kassams struck the Negev, also hitting open areas and causing neither damage nor injury.
On Tuesday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that he planned to approve a list of civilian sanctions against the Gaza Strip in a security meeting he would hold with senior military officials on Thursday, The Jerusalem Post learned.
Barak's decision came hours after seven Kassams struck the western Negev, including one that scored a direct hit on a home in Sderot. There were no casualties. On Monday, six rockets were fired into Israel.
Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna'i was ordered by Barak to prepare a list of sanctions that Israel could impose on Gaza in line with the recent cabinet decision that defined Gaza as a "hostile entity." If the recommendations are approved by Barak, it would be the first time Israel scales back on vital supplies to Gaza since the cabinet decision last month.
In a meeting with defense officials, Southern Command officers and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Vilna'i, officials said, decided to recommend that Israel begin cutting back the supply of gasoline to Gaza in the coming days.
"It's clear that we have to cut off ... the supply of electricity and the supply of fuel," Vilnai told Army Radio Wednesday. "We will dramatically reduce the flow of electricity from Israel over several weeks."
Barak will also be presented with a recommendation to shut down one of the five power lines connecting Israel and Gaza for two hours at night.
"We need to show the residents of Gaza that life does not carry on freely when Kassam rockets land in Israel," a senior defense official said. "If rockets are fired, then the Palestinians will pay a price."
Defense officials said the cuts in gasoline supply would be enough to "slightly disrupt" Palestinians' daily lives and cause them to think twice before driving their car.
During Tuesday's meeting, Vilna'i decided to allow the continued supply of diesel fuel, which is used by ambulances and sanitation vehicles.
"We do not want to cause a humanitarian crisis," a defense official said. "But we do want to send a clear message to the Palestinians that the rocket fire will not be tolerated."
Meanwhile, a prominent Palestinian terrorist, responsible for hundreds of Kassam rocket attacks against Israel, was killed in an IDF air strike on his car in the central Gaza Strip on Tuesday.
Mubarak al-Hassanat, 37, was driving in a black jeep on Gaza's coastal road when his vehicle was struck by missiles. The jeep veered off the road onto the beach, with its roof sheared off and the front twisted. Two people were wounded.
Hassanat was the most prominent terrorist to be killed in an air strike in more than a year. He was a senior official in the Hamas-run Interior Ministry in Gaza, which oversees the security forces. He was also No. 2 in the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), a break-off of Hamas heavily involved in the production and firing of Kassam rockets.
Hassanat initially belonged to Fatah, but over the years established closer ties with Hamas and then joined the PRC. On Monday, he met with PRC members for five hours, said a spokesman said.
"He was recommending more resistance and more activities in the West Bank," Abu Abir told Hamas Radio. "His blood will be fuel for our rockets."
Also Tuesday, IDF troops operating in Jenin shot and killed two senior Islamic Jihad operatives in a gunfight that ensued after the two resisted arrest. An IDF officer was lightly wounded in the exchange of fire.
The operatives were Khaled Hussein, who was suspected of planning suicide bombings and shooting attacks, and his assistant, Tarek Abu Ali. The two were carrying large amounts weapons when they were killed.
AP contributed to the report.â€¢
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