Da Ha'aretz del 15/12/2005
Originale su http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/spages/657969.html

IDF continues airstrikes in Gaza

di Jonathan Lis, Arnon Regular

The Israel Defense Forces continued its offensive on militant targets in the Gaza Strip early Thursday morning, striking the home of a leading Palestinian militant and the office of an Islamic charity.

An Israel Air Force aircraft attacked the home of a militant in Beit Lahiya village before dawn Thursday. Witnesses said the three-story building targeted belonged to Amar Karmout, a leader of the Popular Resistance Committee (PRC), a coalition of Palestinian militants that specializes in cross-border rocket fire into Israel.

The building was partly gutted by fire, but Karmout was apparently not at home at the time of the attack. Another Palestinian was wounded, medics said.

Israel Defense Forces sources said the air strike targeted a PRC weapons store.

In Rafah, an aircraft fired a missile at the office of a charity linked to Islamic Jihad, causing damage but no casualties. Military sources said the office had been used to plan attacks.

Earlier on Thursday, an IAF aircraft fired rockets at open areas of northern Gaza used by Palestinian rocket crews to fire into Israel, military sources said. No one was hurt.

A leader of the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad survived an IAF strike in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, hours after a similar attack killed four gunmen near the border with Israel, witnesses said.

They said Khader Habib, an Islamic Jihad spokesman, was lightly wounded in the Gaza City strike.

Palestinian sources said a missile was fired on Habib's Mercedes in Gaza City, not far from his house. The same sources said Habib had heard the sound of warplanes circling overhead and managed to get out of his car and flee the area.

Habib, a well-known merchant in his 40s, has spent time in Israeli prisons for his involvement with Islamic Jihad. He is considered a senior leader in the organization.

IDF sources said that the car was on its way to launch Qassam rockets or mortar shells on Israel, and that the strike was not a targeted assassination but rather an attempt to halt an attack.

Habib was taken to a safe house and was in stable condition, Islamic Jihad officials said.

Approximately four hours earlier, four Palestinians were killed when the IAF fired missiles at a car east of Gaza City.

The IDF confirmed it launched an air strike against a car in northern Gaza carrying militants from the Popular Resistance Committees. The IDF said they were on their way to carry out an attack.

An IDF drone was overhead at the time of the attack. Witnesses said the attack took place near of the Karni crossing, Gaza's main cargo passage.

IDF sources said the militants in the car were on their way to carry out an attack at the Karni crossing. The sources also said that one of those killed worked at the crossing and used information he had obtained from his job to plan the intended attack.

The Subaru was filled with explosives and caused an unusually large blast when it was hit by the IAF missiles.

Five passers-by were lightly injured in the explosion.

The Popular Resistance Committees was behind several deadly attacks against Israelis in Gaza, and some link PRC with an October 2003 attack in which three U.S. Marine guards were killed in the bombing on a U.S. embassy convoy in Gaza.

Also Wednesday, three Qassam rockets were fired at Israel. No casualties were reported in any of the incidents. The first, which took place before the IAF strike that killed four, hit a Palestinian home in Beit Hanun.

After the IAF strike, two rockets landed in the Israeli town of Sderot in the western Negev. Warning sirens in Sderot were activated. About an hour later, a mortar shell landed in the northern Gaza Strip, near the border with Israel.

After the missile attack on Gaza, dozens of Palestinians gathered in an angry crowd outside the hospital morgue and emergency room, chanting, "God is great" and "Destroy Israel."

A Popular Resistance spokesman who goes by the name of Abu Saed vowed revenge.

"The blood shed by the Zionists will not be shed in vain," Abu Saed said. "We will retaliate and send them the message that the Palestinian sacrifice does not come cheap."

Abu Abir, another spokesman, urged residents of the western Negev town of Sderot "to flee their homes because soon our rockets will target them."

He identified the men killed in the air strike as Husam Abu Nada, Mohammed Goha, Rashad Rahim and Hamdan Mohna.

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