IDF kills terrorist with Kassam launcher in Gaza

Four rockets fired at Negev over Sunday; IDF says rocket squads forced to rush launches due to army presence.

kassam disposal 298 88 (photo credit: AP)
kassam disposal 298 88
(photo credit: AP)
IDF soldiers ambushed a Palestinian terrorist with a Kassam launcher in Beit Lahiya on Sunday morning, gunning the man down a short time after he fired a rocket at the western Negev, the army said. Palestinian security officials, however, said a 16-year-old civilian, Abdallah Abu Namous, was driving his donkey carriage when he was shot and killed. They said Abu Namous had accidentally entered an area in the northern Gaza Strip used earlier by militants to fire rockets at Israel. Two additional Kassam rockets struck the western Negev later Sunday evening, followed by a fourth that landed in Sderot on Sunday night. The first three rockets landed in open areas, but the fourth landed in a residential neighborhood and caused four people to go into shock. Military sources said the rocket squads had been forced to rush their launches from sites deeper inside the coastal strip due to the IDF's presence in the area and airstrikes from Israeli gunships. The pressure had resulted in a marked decrease in the accuracy and frequency of the locally made missiles, the military officials said. Meanwhile, Israel lifted overnight Saturday the full closure that had been in place around the West Bank and Gaza Strip since Friday morning. The closure followed threats by terror organizations to step up their efforts to perpetrate suicide attacks to avenge a botched IDF artillery shelling meant for Kassam rocket terrorists that instead tore through a Beit Hanun apartment building and killed 19 civilians. The closure was declared in response to 80 terror threats, approximately one-quarter of which were categorized as "specific." The alert level nationwide remained at its maximum. In the course of nightly counterterror operations carried out in the West Bank, IDF soldiers captured two Hamas fugitives in Hebron before dawn Sunday, the army said. No soldiers were wounded in the arrest raids and the men were handed over to security officials for questioning, the army said. AP contributed to this report.