Islamic Jihad claims IAF missile missed target

Gaza strike reportedly fails to hit terrorists' car, wounding 3; IDF: We won't stop hitting launchers.

IAF copter cool 298.88 (photo credit: IDF [file])
IAF copter cool 298.88
(photo credit: IDF [file])
An IAF aircraft struck in the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Yunis on Sunday, missing a car carrying Islamic Jihad terrorists, the group said. Three people were reportedly lightly wounded in the attack. The IDF confirmed the strike but did not provide further details. Following up on threats of continued action against Kassam rocket launching crews, an earlier IAF air strike destroyed rocket launchers in Gaza on Sunday afternoon. There was no word on casualties. The attack came only a few hours after two Kassam rockets were fired at Israel from the northern Gaza Strip. The rockets struck an open area in the Negev, and did not cause any damage or injury. Islamic Jihad took responsibility for the rocket attack. Meanwhile, Hamas announced that gunmen from its ranks had fired at an IAF helicopter near the Gaza coast, Israel Radio reported. The IDF denied that any of its aircraft had come under fire in the area. On Saturday, IDF officers warned that the army would not change its policy of striking at suspicious figures spotted next to Kassam launchers in the Gaza Strip despite the discovery over the weekend that three children killed in an IDF strike last week were not involved in terror activity. The probe conducted by the Southern Command revealed that the three young cousins - Mahmoud Ghazal, 10, Sara Ghazal, 10, and Yehiya Ghazal, 12 - were playing near rocket launchers in northern Gaza targeted by the IDF and were not connected with terrorists. They were killed when troops spotted them as suspicious figures moving near the rocket launchers. Despite the unfortunate outcome, officers said Saturday that the IDF did not plan to change its policy of striking at Kassam launchers and nearby suspicious figures. The officers said that the IDF used stringent rules of engagement before opening fire to ensure that innocent bystanders were not hurt. "We already do all we can to prevent harming innocent people," an officer said. "Palestinians need to know that it is dangerous to be near or play near Kassam rocket launchers." The IDF expressed sorrow at the children's death, but said Palestinian extremists bore responsibility because they put rocket launchers in civilian areas. The army said it has warned residents of Gaza to keep children away from the launchers. The use of children in terror activity is not a new phenomenon in Gaza. Last week, a 15-year-old boy was caught on his way to perpetrate a suicide attack next to troops stationed there. Two other Gaza children, aged 10 and 12, were killed two weeks ago after they were, according to the IDF, handling Kassam launchers. Meanwhile Human Rights Watch on Saturday released a statement calling on the IDF and Palestinian terror groups to stop endangering children in the Gaza Strip. "Rocket launchers constitute legitimate military objectives, and Palestinian armed groups endanger civilians when they place them near residential areas," said Joe Stork, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East division. "But Israeli forces must take all feasible precautions when conducting attacks to avoid unnecessary loss of civilian life, especially of children." AP contributed to this report.