Jihad fires 5 Kassams from Gaza

Rockets attacks resume after IDF kills 3 Jihad fugitives in Kabatiya gunbattle.

hadera fatalities 298 (photo credit: Channel 2)
hadera fatalities 298
(photo credit: Channel 2)
Less than a day after top Islamic Jihad leaders announced they would maintain a mutual ceasefire, at least five Kassam rockets were fired from the northern region of the Gaza Strip into the western Negev Sunday night. No damage in life or property was reported. The attacks came in immediate response to a military operation in Kabatiya, in which three Islamic Jihad fugitives were killed by the IDF after prolonged gunbattles Sunday night. Two of the Islamic Jihad operatives were shot in West Bank town of Kabatiya near Jenin, after IDF forces, including Nahal brigade and elite units, surrounded a house in the afternoon where they were hiding. The two were linked to last week's suicide bomb attack in Hadera in which five Israelis were killed. Four Palestinian men, a woman and two children left the house and surrendered to troops outside. They were questioned by security forces in order to gain information about the identities of those holed up inside. One of the men who turned himself in was also suspected of being involved in last week's attack. Shortly after the house was encircled, fugitives inside the house opened fire on the troops. Palestinian media reports said heavy gun battles erupted between the sides. After the fire ceased, near midnight Sunday, and a D9 bulldozer was called to ram the house and encourage the fugitives to surrender, the IDF forces entered the building and discovered the bodies of Jihad Awidat Akarne - the dispatcher of last week's suicide bomber - and of Rashad Knell, his associate. In addition, a third Palestinian was killed in a separate incident in the town of Kabatiya when a paratrooper unit discovered three Palestinians laying an explosive device on the route into the village. The IDF did not suffer any losses. The Islamic Jihad stated that neither the residents of Sderot nor of Ashkelon would be safe so long as the IDF continues its activities. In the wake of last week's bombing, Israel decided to intensify its crackdown on Islamic Jihad cell members in northern Samaria located especially in areas between Tulkarm and Jenin. Aside from isolating areas where the terrorists are believed to be active, the army intends to conduct widespread arrests and launch specific operations against specific terror targets. "Our operations focus on routing out Islamic Jihad members and are not aimed at the local population. Many of the arrests carried out under fire initiated by the terrorists," an officer told The Jerusalem Post. Earlier on Sunday, a senior Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza said his organization had reached an agreement with the Palestinian Authority and would agree to halt Kassam rocket attacks on southern Israel if Israel stopped its air strikes on terror targets in Gaza. "If the enemy stops its attacks, our committment to calm will be maintained," Khaled al Batsh, an Islamic Jihad leader in the Gaza Strip, told reporters. Meanwhile Israel agreed to reopen the Karni goods crossing in northern Gaza and the Sufah crossing in southern Gaza on Sunday in order to allow products and merchandise to enter the Gaza Strip. The decision was made following an assessment of the security situation on the ground by top IDF and senior defense and security officials. The Erez crossing which permits the entry of Gazan laborers into Israel remained closed until further notice. The crossings were closed last week in response to the Hadera suicide bomb attack, in addition to a general closure imposed on the West Bank and Gaza Strip that remained intact. Early Sunday morning, an Israeli boy was lightly wounded from stones thrown at the car in which he was riding near El Lubin, northwest of Ramallah. The boy was taken to a hospital in Israel. The army noted that the car also suffered damage. In the late afternoon, stones were thrown at an Egged bus and several Israeli vehicles traveling on the Jerusalem Tel Aviv highway near Ein Hemed outside of Jerusalem. No one was wounded in the attack but the bus and cars suffered damage. Police said a soldier traveling in the bus at the time of the attack fired a warning shot in the air. Security forces deployed to the site and searched for the perpetrators. Before dawn on Sunday, artillery units positioned along the border with the Gaza Strip shelled open areas in northern Gaza used by terrorists to fire Kassam rockets at Israel. The move came shortly after a Kassam rocket was fired at the western Negev, landing in an open area. No one was wounded in the attack and there were no reports of damage.