3 soldiers wounded in Gaza clashes

Army uncovers smuggling tunnels, weapon caches; 2 senior Hamas operatives killed in northern Strip.

survey_gaza_world_pressure (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Three IDF soldiers were wounded, one moderately and two lightly, as the IDF continued operations against Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip on Friday afternoon. The soldiers were evacuated to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba. The IDF continued to discover and destroy tunnels and weapon caches in the Gaza Strip, as infantry, armor, artillery and intelligence corps forces operated on the ground, and the IAF and Navy struck Hamas targets from a distance. Paratroopers in the northern Gaza Strip discovered two tunnels and a laboratory used to manufacture explosives, while soldiers from the Givati infantry brigade discovered a tunnel used to store a wide variety of weapons, including RPG's, Israel Radio reported. The radio station also reported that in an operation enabled by Shin-Bet intelligence, the IDF killed senior Hamas terrorists Tarek Abu Hamshab of Beit-Hanun and Muhammad Najar of Jabalya. Since noon, the IAF had struck over 40 Hamas targets in the Strip. Among the targets were Hamas weapon caches, some of which were located in houses, four buildings serving Hamas and several rocket-launching squads. In the early afternoon, two Palestinians were reportedly killed in IDF operations in northern Gaza. The IDF resumed its operations due to a Grad-type rocket attack on Ashdod, which occurred after a three-hour humanitarian truce between Israel and Hamas was supposed to have already begun. Before noon, an intense IAF bombardment and a barrage of Hamas rockets indicated that there would be no rapid end to the fighting, despite the UN Security Council calling Thursday night for an "immediate" and "durable" cease-fire in Gaza. Palestinians reported intense Gaza battles between IDF soldiers and Hamas gunmen Friday morning, after the IAF had hit some 50 targets in the Strip in overnight strikes. On Friday morning, Assad el Jamala, a senior Hamas operative, was killed by IDF tank fire in the Zeitoun neighborhood. El Jamala was involved in firing rockets, planting bombs and other terror activities, the army said. In addition, one IAF strike killed two Hamas terror operatives and another unidentified man, while another flattened a five-story building in northern Gaza, killing at least seven people, one of them, according to Hamas, an infant. Five IDF soldiers were wounded in overnight Gaza fighting. One was in moderate condition, and four were in light condition. Also, over 20 rockets and mortar shells were fired at southern Israel on Friday morning, wounding one man in the Eshkol region. In Israel on Friday morning, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni met to decide whether to heed the UN's cease-fire call. The Security Cabinet was due to meet later in the day. Osama Hamdan, a Hamas envoy to Lebanon, rejected the UNSC call for a cease-fire, telling the al-Arabiya satellite channel that the group "is not interested in it because it does not meet the demands of the movement." Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the UN failed to consider the interests of the Palestinian people. "This resolution doesn't mean that the war is over," he told the al-Jazeera satellite television network. "We call on the Palestinian fighters to mobilize and be ready to face the offensive, and we urge the Arab masses to carry on with their angry protests."