IDF cracks down on Islamic Jihad, Kassam launchers

In efforts to stem recently-increased Islamic Jihad terrorist activities, IDF forces apprehended 16 Islamic Jihad fugitives in the West Bank overnight Thursday. The air force struck Kassam-launching facilities in northern Gaza overnight as well. Israel resumed its policy of targeted interceptions Thursday night, striking a top Islamic Jihad field commander in Gaza's Jabalya refugee camp and killing at least six other Palestinians. Military sources confirmed that an aircraft fired a rocket into a vehicle in Gaza, saying that the target was Shadi Mehana, 25, the senior Islamic Jihad commander in the northern Gaza Strip. The army said he was behind the renewal of Kassam rocket attacks since Israel pulled out of Gaza in August. The Associated Press reported that at least six other Palestinians were killed in the strike on the white Subaru, including Mehana's deputy Mohammed Ghazaineh. The others were believed to be bystanders. Israel Radio said that of the seven killed, two were children. In addition, 14 people were wounded in the attack, including five children. The Islamic Jihad vowed to deliver a harsh response to the killings. The group fired three Kassam rockets from the Gaza Strip toward Israel overnight Thursday, but the rockets landed on Palestinian land, and no one was wounded in the attack. Thursday night's targeted interception came as Israel launched a broad offensive against the Palestinian terror organization following Wednesday's terror attack in Hadera. It also culminated a day of intensive air force action in Gaza. Israeli aircraft carried out at least four strikes earlier Thursday, the same day Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant took over as head of the Southern Command. These air strikes were all directed at open fields in the northern Gaza Strip from which Palestinians launched Kassam rockets at Israeli targets. The targeted assassination drove home a decision made following the suicide bombing to significantly quash the Islamic Jihad terrorist infrastructure. The relatively tiny Islamic fundamentalist organization has never agreed to join any ceasefire in attacks against Israel. The evening strike was part of a broad military offensive against the Islamic Jihad that began early Thursday in the northern West Bank when a large force swept into Jenin and captured a senior terrorist leader. "Yesterday we witnessed a serious terror attack," Sharon said Thursday morning at the start of a meeting with visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. "Unfortunately, the Palestinian Authority isn't taking a single serious step to fight terror. We are unwilling to tolerate, under any circumstances, the continuation of terror. Therefore, our operational activity will be broad and non-stop until we bring about the end of the terror." Also on Thursday, the father of the suicide bomber, Hassan Abu Zeid, was arrested in his village of Kabatiya. Security forces are trying to understand how he managed to slip into Israel. Over a dozen fugitives were arrested across the West Bank early Thursday. Also Thursday, Palestinians hurled rocks at an Israeli vehicle traveling along a road near the village of Silwad, north of Ramallah, lightly wounding a civilian and causing damage to her vehicle. The woman was taken to a hospital to receive medical treatment, the army said.