Soldier killed by bomb at Gaza border

IAF kills terrorist after bombing; troops gun down 4 Islamic Jihad members; Kassam wounds 1 in Sderot.

idf bomb 224.88 (photo credit: )
idf bomb 224.88
(photo credit: )
An IDF soldier was killed and three soldiers and two civilians were wounded when a bomb was detonated under their jeep as they patrolled the Israeli side of the Gaza security fence near Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha early Thursday morning. The fatality was a non-commissioned officer serving in the elite Beduin tracker unit. Palestinian witnesses said a large explosion tore through the jeep and set it on fire. Initial probes indicate that IDF spotters noticed Palestinians planting a similar device on the Gaza side of the fence on Wednesday and that it was detonated soon after by Israeli forces. But they apparently failed to notice that another bomb had been planted on the Israeli side, and it was this device that blew up Thursday morning. The device was most likely detonated by remote control, and terrorists remained lying in ambush on the high ground dominating the fence, waiting for rescue teams to arrive to help the wounded soldiers. When they came, the terrorists launched a hail of mortar and gun fire at the troops. Some of the mortar fire landed in the fields of Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha, forcing workers to take cover in buildings. A terrorist was killed in an IAF airstrike after the bombing. Late Thursday, Israel said it shot group of terrorists trying to plant a bomb in the same area. Four were killed. The family of the Beduin tracker who was killed refused to release his name, reportedly so as not to incur harassment due to the controversy surrounding army service in the Beduin community. A veteran of the IDF, who reportedly worked to encourage other youth to enlist in the army, he is survived by two wives and seven children. One of the three other soldiers wounded in the attack, 20-year-old Sgt. Eran Banai, was listed in critical condition, after loosing both of his legs in the attack. Banai, who served in the Givati Brigade, is the oldest child to two severely disabled parents who live in Ashkelon and have spent the past week under threat of missile fire. The other two soldiers were both listed in good condition. As a result of the continued violence in the south, Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced Thursday that he had canceled a planned trip to the US. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack, although Hamas said its men also participated. Abu Ahmad, a spokesman for Islamic Jihad, said the attack was in retaliation for an IDF strike a day earlier that killed one of the group's commanders in southern Gaza. "We are sending our message to all the Zionist criminals," he said. "Your threats to target the leaders of resistance... won't scare us. We are going to continue our resistance and holy war, and we will continue to rain rockets on your colonies until we make them ghost towns." Rockets did continue to fall - at least on Sderot - Thursday. One person was moderately wounded and another listed in good condition after a rocket scored a direct hit on a two-story house in the city in the evening, setting the structure on fire and causing massing damage to the second floor. About an hour earlier, another Sderot house suffered a direct hit, with the rocket slamming into the family's living room. Fortunately, however, the house had been built with a basement, where family members have spent much of their time - including Thursday evening - while rockets rained down on the town. Another rocket landed in a nearby neighborhood, hitting a gas canister and subsequently setting a second house on fire. Nine people were treated for shock as a result of the almost one dozen rockets that were fired from the Gaza Strip toward the western Negev on Thursday. Jerusalem Post staff and AP contributed to this report.