Five Palestinians killed by IDF troops in West Bank, Gaza
Hamas, Jihad, and Fatah militants among the dead; IDF uncovers two tunnels under Gaza-Egypt border.
Israel Defense Forces troops shot and killed five Palestinians in four separate incidents in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Tuesday.
A Hamas gunman was killed and another wounded in clashes with IDF troops in northern Gaza late Tuesday night, Reuters reported.
IDF troops backed by tanks entered the northern Gaza Strip late Tuesday evening and battled Palestinian gunmen, Palestinian witnesses said.
The witnesses said a number of IDF tanks entered northern Gaza, east of the Jabalya refugee camp.
The forces clashed with Hamas militants in the area, who fired anti-tank rockets.
Hamas said one of its gunmen killed and another wounded in the fighting.
The IDF said it was checking the report.
Earlier Tuesday, IDF troops uncovered two tunnels near Rafah on the Gaza-Egypt border.
Two Palestinians were killed Tuesday afternoon by IDF soldiers operating in the Ein Beit Ilma refugee camp near Nablus, including a wanted Fatah militant.
Undercover IDF troops attempted to arrest 24-year-old A'adel Abu Rish, wanted for his activities in the Fatah military wing and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. He was also suspected of involvement in shooting and bombing attacks.
Abu Rish was traveling in a vehicle driven by his cousin, 22-year-old Firas Abu Rish, and was armed with a Kalashnikov assault rifle.
Soldiers opened fire on the vehicle when the two tried to flee, killing both men.
An Islamic Jihad gunman was killed early Tuesday in an exchange of fire with Israel Defense Forces troops in the Qabatiyeh village near the West Bank city of Jenin, Palestinian witnesses and the IDF said.Islamic Jihad identified the dead as Mohammed Zakarneh, 18.
The IDF said one of its patrols was on a routine arrest raid in Qabatiyeh when it was fired upon by two militants. Troops returned fire and identified hitting one of the men, the IDF said.
Later Tuesday, Border Policemen fired at Palestinian stonethrowers in Qabatiya, killing one and moderately injuring another, according to the IDF.
Palestinian officials confirmed the two were throwing stones at military jeeps and identified the dead as 20-year-old Hani Khalil Kmeil. According to the officials, 16-year-old Mohammed Kmeil, 16, was moderately wounded in the incident.
IDF uncovers Gaza-Egypt tunnelsIDF troops entered 1.5 kilometers into Gaza on Tuesday morning, on the border between the Palestinian Authority and Egypt, south of Rafah. During searches, the troops uncovered two tunnels under the border, which they plan to destroy.
In the past months, 15 different tunnels have been uncovered. Some were used for smuggling weapons between Egypt and Gaza; others were dug towards Israel in order to infiltrate army bases and into the Green Line.
IAF hits Gaza after Qassam firingThe IAF fired missiles at northern Gaza late Monday, hours after a Qassam rocket landed near Sderot.
No one was reported hurt as a result of the IAF missile fire. The army said the missile attack was aimed to destroy rocket launchers, often used to fire Qassams at southern towns in Israel.
Israeli forces have been carrying out air strikes almost nightly against suspected militants and rocket launchers in Gaza as part of an offensive launched after a soldier was captured in a cross-border raid by Hamas-linked gunmen in June.
Earlier in the day, militants in the Gaza Strip had fired at least two Qassam rockets at the western Negev, one of which landed next to a home in the town of Sderot, lightly wounding a woman in the leg.
Seven other people were treated for shock. Another Qassam landed earlier in the day next to Kibbutz Nir-Am, also in the western Negev.
Defense Minister Amir Peretz said Monday morning that no one is eager for a military ground incursion deep into the heart of Gaza but added that Israel would not allow the Strip to turn into south Lebanon.
Peretz told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee about the escalation in Gaza that "operations are now being undertaken with the recommendation of the Israel Defense Forces and intelligence bodies. These operations are of a much wider scale than they have been up until now. [Nevertheless], no one is eager for a deep ground operation throughout Gaza."
The defense minister confirmed that the political echelon had approved a step-up in military operations against Palestinian organizations in Gaza - including the use of ground and air forces. Operations are also undergoing against the digging of tunnels in densely populated areas.
"We will not approve the transformation of the Gaza Strip into south Lebanon," Peretz said. "From our perspective, we are done with the period when we made efforts to determine [which militant organization] fired each missile. We will strike out at everyone, and it doesn't matter what organization they belong to."
He expressed hope that diplomatic overtures to the Palestinian Authority would moderate the escalation in Gaza.
Also Monday, an Islamic Jihad militant was killed and another seriously wounded when the explosive device they were preparing near Khan Yunis prematurely exploded. Both the dead and the wounded were members of the Al-Quds Brigade, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad.