Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Gaza operation

Israel has begun an anti-terrorist operation in the Gaza strip:

Israeli helicopter gunships fired missiles into a slum building in Gaza City at dusk Tuesday, killing a member of the radical group Islamic Jihad and a Palestinian policeman, wounding more than a dozen bystanders and inaugurating what could be a broad and prolonged offensive against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

Before dawn Wednesday, at least two more Palestinians were killed when Israeli tanks and armored bulldozers swept into the volatile town of Rafah, in southern Gaza. The army said Israeli forces fired on gunmen who were trying to plant a bomb in the path of the Israeli vehicles.

The airstrike in Gaza City occurred less than four hours after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's security Cabinet, a small group of top advisors and ministers, authorized a sustained military operation in the crowded seaside territory to retaliate for dual suicide bombings Sunday at the bustling Israeli seaport of Ashdod that killed 10 workers.

One of those killed in Tuesday's air raid was a member of Islamic Jihad, the group confirmed, but the man believed to be the Israelis' primary target — Mohammed Haroubi, a local Islamic Jihad commander — escaped.


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