Palestinians: 5 killed by IDF in Gaza

2 civilians, operative reported dead as army returns fire at gunmen; brigade commander lightly wounded.

Kassam Great 224.88 (photo credit: Channel 1)
Kassam Great 224.88
(photo credit: Channel 1)
Two Palestinian civilians and three gunmen were killed Wednesday in IDF operations in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical officials said. Meanwhile, an IDF brigade commander was lightly wounded, the military said. At dawn, IDF troops pushed into southern Gaza to target rocket-launching squads, said the army. According to Palestinian doctors, two gunmen were killed in air strikes near the town of Khan Yunis. Hours later, army tanks entered an area northeast of Gaza City in pursuit of gunmen who opened fire on troops near the border with Israel, the army said. doctors said that soldiers returned fire, killing a gunman but also a 17-year-old riding his bike and another civilian. Meanwhile, an IDF brigade commander was lightly wounded in the hand by shrapnel during operations in the south of the Strip, an army spokesman reported. He added that the commander intended to remain in the field with the soldiers. Wednesday's operations came amid reports that the IDF planned to reduce its operations throughout the West Bank during the visit of US President George W. Bush. The orders were delivered earlier this week to the IDF's Central Command by the political echelon. IDF troops tend to operate in a number of cities in the West Bank every day, arresting terror suspects and searching for weaponry and explosives. According to the new instructions, regional brigades will only be allowed to carry out an arrest raid after receiving authorization from OC Judea and Samaria Division Brig.-Gen. Noam Tivon. Sources in the Central Command said the political echelon asked for "industrial quiet" over the next few days and to scale back operations that could run awry and embarrass the visiting American leader. Such an operation took place in January 2007 in Ramallah while Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was sitting down for a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Sharm e-Sheikh. Six Palestinians were killed and 30 were wounded in the daytime operation. According to the new orders, the Central Command was to refrain from raiding West Bank cities over the next three days unless an operation was needed to capture a "ticking bomb" - a terrorist on his way to perpetrate an attack. Instead, the military was asked to maintain a defensive posture along the main roads leading to the Palestinian towns as well as surrounding Israeli settlements.