7 Palestinians killed in Gaza after missile strikes Israeli bus

April 8, 2011

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli fire killed five Palestinians overnight and two early Friday, with dozens more injured after a projectile from the Gaza Strip hit a school bus in southern Israel, injuring two people, medical and security officials said.

On Friday morning, an airstrike on Khuza’a town, east of Khan Younis, killed two, and shelling on Rafah airport in southern Gaza injured three, witnesses reported.

Hamas’s military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, named those killed as Abdallah al-Qarra and Muataz Abu Jamea.

Late Thursday, in a bid to prevent further Israeli strikes, Hamas said it had got most armed Palestinian factions in Gaza to sign on to a ceasefire.

Four of those killed in the strikes across Gaza Thursday were identified as leader of the Al-Qassam Brigades Salah Tarabin, 38, Musab al-Sufi, 18, Muhammad Almanmom, 25, and Khaled Aldbari, 23.

Witnesses said artillery fire injured five people, including a small child, and killed Mahmoud Al-Manasra, 50, who died after shells landed near his home in the Shejaiya neighborhood of Gaza City.

Air strikes hit two Hamas positions in and around Gaza City Thursday, and other raids hit targets in the southern cities of Rafah and Khan Yunis, killing another two people and wounding dozens more, eight of whom were injured when shell fragments hit an ambulance, Palestinian medical sources said.

In total, more than 40 people were wounded across the Gaza Strip overnight.

Those injured in Thursday strikes brought to hospital [MaanImages]

A spokeswoman for the military confirmed troops had launched multiple attacks on targets in Gaza, saying it “fired at places from which mortars are fired at Israel.”

Friday’s strikes targeted “two terrorist squads from the Hamas terrorist organization,” a spokeswoman said, adding “Armored vehicles as well as Israeli aircraft fired at the squads and identified hits.”

The shelling came after militants fired an anti-tank missile which hit a bus in southern Israel Thursday, critically wounding a teenager, as well as wounding one other person who was only lightly hurt, Israeli medics said.

“An anti-tank missile was fired directly at the bus,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said shortly after the attack on the school bus which was passing in front of kibbutz Nahal Oz, just across the border from Gaza City’s eastern flank.

Hamas’s armed wing claimed responsibility, saying it was an “initial response” to Israel killing three of the group’s leaders on Saturday, when an airstrike hit their car in southern Gaza.

An Israeli military spokesman said that raid was a pre-emptive strike against militants planning to attack Israelis on holiday in the Sinai Peninsula during the coming Jewish festival of Passover.

Later, the Hamas government said most of the militant groups in Gaza had agreed to a truce.

“We are in contact with the Palestinian factions to stop the Zionist escalation,” the Hamas interior ministry said in a statement.

“We received a positive response from most of the factions,” he added, without saying who had not signed up to the deal.

An Islamic Jihad official said the truce would go into effect from late Thursday night and indicated “other Arab countries” had been involved in the talks.

Man injured in Thursday strikes [MaanImages]

Militants lobbed at least 45 mortar rounds into southern Israel, hitting a house, and the army responded by staging multiple raids across the enclave, one of which hit an ambulance, Palestinian medics said.

One projectile landed 700 meters inside Egyptian territory and caused a deep hole in the ground, an Egyptian security official said, adding that the army opened an inquiry to determine its origin.

As rockets flew over the border, Israel’s Iron Dome short-range missile defence system intercepted a projectile heading for the southern port city of Ashkelon, in what was the first time the system has ever been successfully used in a combat situation.

The bus attack was the first time an anti-tank missile had hit a civilian target in Israel, prompting Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak to order the army “to act swiftly” in response.

Over the past month, dozens of rockets have hit southern Israel, some reaching cities as far as 25 miles away, prompting a series of airstrikes and raids.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is currently en route to Prague after talks in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said he would deal with the surge in violence when he returned to Israel on Friday.

“I’m not going to manage things from Berlin airport … when I get to Israel tomorrow, we shall, of course, continue the necessary actions to ensure the safety of the citizens of Israel,” he said in comments broadcast on Israel’s Channel 10 television.

Netanyahu told Voice of Israel radio on Thursday evening that “all necessary force” would be used to stop Gaza fire and harm to Israeli civilians.

Ofir Gendelman, a spokesman for the Israeli prime minister, said Israel was committed to its truce with Hamas and did not seek to escalate the situation along the border.

“However, Hamas launched 16 mortar rounds in addition to targeting an Israeli bus in southern Israel that left two wounded,” Gendelman told Ma’an, saying he held Hamas responsible.

Asked if that meant Israel was considering a new Gaza assault, he responded, “I don’t rule this out.”

PLO executive committee member Saeb Erekat urged Israel to end its attacks: “For years, our people have suffered the devastating consequences of an illegal and inhumane siege,” Erekat said.

“It is now time for the international community to intervene and prevent another round of merciless and illegitimate military escalation against Palestinian civilians.”

Erekat also urged Palestinian factions not to give Israel any pretext for further attacks.

AFP contributed to this report.




Killed by Israeli Occupation 2011

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