IAF Strike on Militants Wounds 3 Palestinians in Gaza Strip

Residents: Unmanned aircraft fired three missiles towards a group of militants preparing a mortar attack.

The Israel Air Force fired missiles at the Jabaliya refugee camp early Monday, where militants were preparing a mortar attack, Israeli military officials said, wounding two Palestinians.

Residents said unmanned Israeli aircraft fired three missiles near the camp's mosque, where a group of militants was gathering. The wounded were taken to a hospital in nearby Beit Lahiya, they said.

Hospital officials said a man and two women, apparently bystanders, were wounded by shrapnel.

Israel Defense Forces officials, speaking on customary condition of anonymity, said the IAF identified two teams of Palestinians setting up mortars. The missiles destroyed both launchers, they said. The officials would not comment on what kind of aircraft fired the missiles.

The militant Islamic Jihad issued a statement saying that a few minutes before the Israeli air strike, its cells launched three rockets from northern Gaza at an Israeli village just outside the territory. The Islamic Jihad said its cell was the target of the Israeli attack.

Since a cease-fire went into effect on Feb. 8, Israel has only rarely carried out military operations in Gaza. However, the military notes that mortar and rocket attacks have been increasing in Gaza in recent days, and Israel charges that the Palestinian Authority is not doing enough to stop the militants.

According to Israeli figures, more than 60 mortars and 10 homemade Qassam rockets have been fired in Gaza in the last two weeks.

A second blast heard later in the Jebaliya camp, where about 100,000 Palestinians live in poverty, turned out to be an accidental explosion of a gas canister.

Four Palestinians killed in territoriesFour Palestinians were killed in separate incidents in the West Bank and Gaza on Sunday, three in apparent 'work accidents' in the Gaza Strip, and one while trying to stab IDF soldiers.

Two Palestinians were killed and two others were wounded Sunday afternoon in an explosion in a house in Gaza.

The blast apparently occured when a bomb they were preparing exploded prematurely. The four were members of the military wing of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' ruling Fatah party.

Also Sunday, Hamas activist Tahsin Kelah was killed in a large explosion in Khan Yunis, in the Gaza Strip. The circumstances surrounding the blast are unclear, although it was apparently caused when a mortar shell or rocket-propelled grenage Kelah was trying to shoot misfired.

Earlier Sunday, IDF troops opened fire and killed a Palestinian who tried to stab them in the West Bank town of Hebron.

The Palestinian drew out a 12-centimeter knife as he was running toward the soldiers who were standing in a central junction in the town. The soldiers noticed the man and after firing warning shots, opened fire, killing him on the spot, an IDF spokesman said.

"The (military) force called for him to stop several times and fired warning shots in the air. He continued moving towards the force. He said his intention was to kill them," he said.

"When he arrived close to them, and it became life threatening, a soldier opened fire as a result he (the militant) died," she added.

Palestinians fired two Qassam rockets and several mortar shells at Gush Katif settlements in the Gaza Strip on Sunday morning. No casualties were reported.

Palestinians also fired on an IDF post in the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday, causing no injuries or damage.