IDF hunts Kassam crews in north Gaza

Officials: "Troops will go to parts of Gaza where they have not yet operated."

idf tank mosque 298 ap (photo credit: AP)
idf tank mosque 298 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Israeli aircraft fired missiles at a car in northern Gaza on Tuesday, and Palestinian hospital officials said one man was killed and another wounded. The Air Force struck at a Kassam crew earlier Tuesday morning in Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza, hitting the terrorists just before they managed to launch a rocket at Israel, the IDF said.
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It was not clear if any terrorists were killed, but according to the IDF, a direct hit was confirmed. Two gunmen were seriously wounded in the attack, Palestinian hospital officials said. The car that was hit was apparently carrying Kassam rockets, and according to the IDF, was the same vehicle spotted near the Kassam launch site that was also targeted. The strike came as Israeli leaders approved new incursions into the Gaza Strip, security officials said Tuesday. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz gave the green light to additional incursions into Gaza to free the soldier and stop Palestinian rocket attacks, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters. The officials said the new phase would include sending troops into areas of Gaza where they have not yet operated. So far soldiers have entered southern and northern Gaza and have approached Gaza City. Earlier in the morning the Air Force fired a missile at a bridge, also near the town of Beit Hanoun. Less than an hour earlier, Palestinian sources reported that an Israeli tank fired shells at a Kassam launch cell operating in the ruins of the former Jewish settlement Dugit. No one was wounded and the IDF denied the incident. On Monday, two separate Israeli strikes at Palestinians in the Gaza Strip killed five people and wounded several others, Palestinian hospital officials said. In the first attack, Israel launched an air strike in Gaza City at a group of gunmen with an anti-tank missile near the Karni cargo crossing between Gaza and Israel, the army said. The air strike killed one Hamas operative. Minutes later, the army attacked a group of terrorists who had just launched a homemade rocket into Israel, the army said. The attack, near the northern town of Beit Hanoun, killed four youths after inadvertently hitting a soccer field where they were playing, according to Palestinian doctors. The Kassam crew apparently escaped the strike unscathed. The IDF said that the four killed were there in order to extract the Kassam crew from the area. The Islamic Jihad said earlier Monday that two Palestinians killed in an IAF missile attack earlier in the day were Jihad operatives on their way to carry out an attack on Israeli targets. IAF aircraft fired at a car in the village of Abassan near Khan Younis in southern Gaza as part of the continued operations in the region aimed at halting the firing of Kassam rockets and preventing the transfer of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. Earlier Monday, in the northern Gaza Strip, the IDF killed a Palestinian gunman. The armed man was spotted about 200 meters from the Israel-Gaza security fence before being struck down by an IAF missile. Also on Monday, IDF aircraft hit targets in the Gaza Strip, pressing ahead with Operation Summer Rains aimed at freeing kidnapped IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit. Before daybreak, an IAF helicopter fired a missile at a group of Hamas terrorists near Gaza City, killing one and seriously wounding another, Palestinian hospital officials said. The military said aircraft fired a missile at operatives on their way to launch a Kassam rocket at western Negev towns.