IDF kills 7 Palestinian gunmen in Gaza
15 weapons smuggling tunnels uncovered during cleanup of Egyptian border corridor.
By JOSH BRANNON, JPOST STAFF
October 23, 2006 11:12
3 minute read.
N.Gaza tank 298 88.
(photo credit: AP)
Givati Brigade commandos killed seven Palestinian gunmen in the northern Gaza Strip on Monday, including Ata Shimbari, a senior Popular Resistance Committees commander who headed the group's rocket-launching unit.
At least 30 other Palestinians were wounded in the firefight, including four in serious to critical condition, Palestinian hospital officials said.
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Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas condemned the IDF's expanded operations in Gaza, saying Israel deliberately carried out the operation - which he called a "heinous massacre" - during the Id al-Fitr holiday. He called on the international community to intervene.
Despite the army's stepped-up presence, three more rockets were launched from Gaza. Two of them landed in Sderot, damaging two vehicles and causing a number of residents to go into shock.
Palestinian witnesses said soldiers took over structures on the outskirts of Beit Hanun early Sunday morning, an area often used to fire Kassam rockets. They said troops laying in ambush attacked a group of gunmen and bystanders with small-arms fire, and shortly thereafter a tank arrived and shelled a building.
The IDF said it had not set an ambush, but that troops from the Givati Brigade's Reconnaissance Battalion were in the area trying to stop terrorist cells from firing rockets into the Western Negev when they spotted armed men approaching their position. The troops opened fired, hitting 10 men - all of them armed - in a fierce firefight that lasted several minutes, the IDF said. No soldiers were wounded.
The Palestinian witnesses said six of the seven dead men were armed and opened fire on the soldiers because they mistakenly thought a rival clan was attacking them.
Six of the seven dead gunmen were members of the Shimbari family, including Ata Shimbari, his brother and two of their cousins. Ata Shimbari was reportedly a senior commander in the Nasr Salah al-Din Brigades, the PRC's armed wing.
The PRC vowed revenge. "This is the calm before the storm. Our response will be shocking," PRC spokesman Abu Abir said at a news conference.
The June 25 capture of Cpl. Gilad Shalit by terrorists from Hamas and the PRC sparked a broad IDF campaign in Gaza that has been expanded to target Kassam rocket operations and weapons-smuggling tunnels.
Earlier Monday, gunmen opened fire at soldiers searching for tunnels near Rafah on the Egyptian border. The soldiers fired back and hit two men. No soldiers were wounded.
PA officials said the IDF fired a missile at a group of Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahiya, wounding several people.
Despite the ongoing operations Monday, Palestinians succeeded in firing a Kassam rocket from northern Gaza into Israel. It landed harmlessly near an army base.
More rockets were fired into Sderot Monday evening close to 9:30 p.m., activating the Red Dawn warning sirens. At least two impacts were heard as the rockets slammed into open areas in the city. Magen David Adom treated several individuals for shock and two vehicles were damaged.
In the West Bank, soldiers shot and killed Muhammad Abdufatah, 23, during an arrest raid in Tamun, near Jenin, overnight Sunday. Fifteen Palestinians were wounded in an operation that targeted a senior Islamic Jihad operative, according to foreign press reports.
Security forces arrested five Palestinian fugitives in pre-dawn raids: Three Hamas members were arrested in Ramallah and one in Hebron, and a Fatah gunmen was nabbed in Nablus.
Palestinians threw a bomb and fired at troops near Kalkilya overnight Sunday. No casualties or damage was reported.
Troops manning a security post in the Jewish community inside Hebron uncovered two 12-centimeter long knives on Arab youths during a routine search. The teenagers were handed over to security officials for questioning.
AP contributed to this report.
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