Mortar fire wounds 2 in w. Negev

Army says it arrested Gaza teenager who plotted attacks on soldiers; IDF kills two gunmen in Strip.

IDF Gaza 224 88 (photo credit: AP [file])
IDF Gaza 224 88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Two residents of the western Negev neighborhood of Netiv Ha'asara were lightly wounded Tuesday morning by mortar fire from the Gaza Strip. The two were taken to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon for further treatment. One of the shells hit a house that had been damaged by a previous mortar attack several months ago. Earlier, five mortar shells fired from northern Gaza landed near the perimeter fence in the Kissufim area. There were no reports of wounded or damage. Meanwhile, the IDF announced that in a joint operation with the Shin Ben (Israel Security Agency) on February 25, Muhamad Kassem, a Hamas operative who was planning an attack on IDF soldiers, was arrested. The army said that Kassem, 18, a resident of Beit Lahiya, admitted during his investigation that he was involved in a series of attempts to attack IDF soldiers, including planting and activating explosive devices, ambushing IDF patrols, scouting for intelligence and participating in the planning of a suicide bomb attack. In September 2007, Kassem was recruited by Hamas's suicide bombers. As a part of his training, Kassem was supposed to receive an explosive belt weighing 20 kg intended for a suicide bombing attack but he was arrested before he received the belt. During his investigation, Kassem admitted that he and a number of other Hamas operatives were involved in planting and activating explosive devices against IDF tanks. Overnight Monday, two Hamas operatives were killed by IDF troops operating inside the Gaza Strip, Palestinians reported. The army confirmed the operation, saying troops identified two gunmen, fired at them and hit them. The spokesman added that 10 additional Palestinian suspects were arrested and taken to Israel for further questioning. The operation was the first time in a number of weeks that IDF troops penetrated deep into Palestinian territory. The IDF has been avoiding action against Hamas, focusing instead on Islamic Jihad infrastructures. Also Monday night, the army arrested two terror suspects in the West Bank. They were taken for interrogation. On Monday, two Kassam rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza, landing in open areas in the Sha'ar Hanegev region.