IDF wounds Gaza militant behind deadly attack on soldiers
Seven children also hurt in Khan Yunis attack; Gaza rocket hits Negev, for second time since start of truce.
The Israel Air Force on Thursday attacked a Palestinian militant in the southern Gaza Strip who was apparently behind a deadly attack on an Israel Defense Forces convoy earlier this week.
The IDF identified the targeted militant as Mohammed Uda-Samidi and said he was involved in rigging the roadside bomb which killed an Israeli tracker and wounded three others on Tuesday.
Uda-Samidi and seven children passersby were wounded during the attack on the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunis, Palestinian medical officials said.
This was fifth Israeli air strike since a shaky cease-fire went into effect nearly two weeks ago, ending Israel's 22-day offensive on the coastal enclave. Despite the truce, Israel and the Gazans have been trading fire all week.
Palestinian militants in Gaza fired a Qassam rocket at southern Israel earlier Thursday morning. The rocket exploded in the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council area, causing no casualties or damage.
The IAF late Wednesday night struck a weapons manufacturing facility in the southern Gaza Strip area of Rafah and identified a hit, hours after after another Qassam fired by Gaza militants hit the Eshkol region in the western Negev.
The rocket on Wednesday was the first to hit Israel since the truce began. There were no reports of injuries or damage in that strike either.
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Ehud Barak canceled a planned trip to Washington this week to deal with the crisis, defense officials said.
Eshkol Regional Council head Haim Yalin said following the attack on Wednesday that he anticipated Israel would respond harshly to the renewed firing from the Gaza Strip.
"We expect Israel's government not to be dragged into a policy of restraint, and we expect a forceful response to preserve the security of the residents of the Gaza envelope," Yalin said.
Government spokesman Mark Regev told The Associated Press that "Israel wants the quiet in the south to continue but yesterday's attack is a deliberate provocation designed to undermine and torpedo the calm."
"If Hamas acts to undermine the cease-fire," said Regev, "it will have no one but itself to blame for the consequences."
Palestinians claimed earlier Wednesday to have fired a Qassam at Israel, but Israeli military officials said they did not identify any sites where any explosion might have taken place. The Palestinian claim came in response to an Israel Air Force bombing of tunnels in the Philadelphi corridor near Gaza's border with Egypt earlier that day.
On Tuesday, Palestinian militants rigged a remote control href="http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1059156.html">roadside bomb next to the Israel-Gaza security fence, killing an Israel Defense Forces tracker and wounding three others.
Rafah residents began to flee their homes in panic on Tuesday as Israeli aircrafts struck three targets in response to the deadly bombing, Hamas officials said. There was no initial word of any casualties from the IAF attack.
An IDF spokesperson said Wednesday that "as the sole authority in the Gaza Strip, Hamas bears full responsibility of all terror originating from within its area of control." The army also vowed it would "respond to any terror attacks in accordance with decisions made by the Israeli government."