2 hurt as some 50 rockets hit Negev

Three Palestinian civilians killed in botched air strike on a pickup truck east of Gaza City.

woman hurt kassam sderot (photo credit: AP)
woman hurt kassam sderot
(photo credit: AP)
Two people were lightly wounded Wednesday as some 50 Kassams fired from Gaza hit the western Negev. Some 20 of the rockets landed in Sderot, the including one which struck a house and another which landed near a restaurant Also Wednesday, the IAF struck repeatedly at Palestinian rocket squads in northern Gaza on Wednesday, and in one botched attack killed a 12-year-old boy, his father and uncle. The Palestinian civilians were killed in an air attack on a pickup truck east of Gaza City. The Popular Resistance Committees said the apparent target was its chief rocket maker, who was driving in the area in a similar vehicle at the time. Relatives identified the dead as 12-year-old Amir Yazagi, his father Mohammed and uncle Amr, said Dr. Moaiya Hassanain of the Gaza health ministry. Maj. Avital Leibovich, an IDF spokeswoman, acknowledged that the Yazagi family's vehicle was "unintentionally hit." Civilians regrettably are hurt when militants operate in civilian environments, Leibovich said. "It is important to me to stress that we have no intention whatsoever to hit or hurt uninvolved civilians," she said. Hamas spokesman Taher Nunu called the strike "a new crime," saying Israel was "killing more and more of our innocent people and our freedom fighters." Security forces had been bracing since Tuesday night for a major escalation on the Gaza front out of concern that the deaths of the 19 Palestinians, including the son of a top Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar, would spur the terror group to fire Kassam rockets into Israel. The commander of the Lachish precinct convened a meeting Wednesday morning and decided to deploy large police forces around Sderot and Ashkelon and back them up with Traffic Police, Border Guard, volunteers and other special forces. Hamas called a three-day mourning period for the Palestinians killed Tuesday, and a general strike took hold across the territory. Palestinian flags were lowered to half-staff, verses from the Quran, the Muslim holy book, poured forth from mosque loudspeakers, and government offices, banks and shops were shuttered. Government offices and shops were also closed in the West Bank. Leading PA officials called Zahar to express condolences, and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad issued his condolences in a statement to the media. On Wednesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the head of Gaza's government, Ismail Haniyeh, to express his condolences for the death of Zahar's son, Nunu said. Ahmadinejad accused US President George W. Bush of giving Israel his approval for military operations in Gaza during his trip to the region last week. "Without the green light of the criminal Bush, yesterday's massacre would not have occurred," Ahmadinejad said, according to Nunu.