Israel Defense Forces shelling in northern Gaza on Monday killed six Palestinians in three separate incidents.
In the first incident on Monday an IDF shell landed near a crowd of people standing outside an apartment building in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahia, killing three people, Palestinian hospital officials said. Two were civilians, residents of the building, and the third was an off-duty police officer, residents said.
The second incident was an IDF shell shot at the same neighborhood, which wounded six Palestinians. An 11-year old girl died later of her wounds.Both incidents were likely a case of IDF units shooting at launch areas from which Qassam rockets were previously fired. Over the past few days, the IDF has called for the neighborhood?s residents to leave the area, as it planned to strike at a house that served as a storage place for weapons and to shoot at launch areas in the neighborhood.
The third recent round of shelling by the IDF killed two and wounded several others in the western part of Beit Lahia. An IDF missile hit a carriage pulled by a donkey, killing 62-year old woman and her 12-year old grandson, who were standing near the carriage. Three others were wounded in the incident.
The IDF has also attacked a house in the Gaza City neighborhood of Zeitoun. IDF sources said the type of rockets previously shot at Ashkelon were manufactured in the building.
The IDF has advised residents to evacuate in pamphelts and in the Arab language media. Following these warnings and Monday?s shellings, dozens of families have left Beit Lahia and Beit Hanoun fearing further bombings.
An IDF spokeswoman said troops had fired the shells after locating a number of Qassam launch sites in the area. The IDF said that one of its missiles has likely gone off track and fallen near the "officers dwelling" in the city. The spokeswoman added that the terror organizations were responsible for the casualties, as the IDF had given previous warnings that it would target Qassam launching sites.
Five Qassams fall in IsraelThree Qassam rockets fired from the Gaza Strip landed in the western Negev town of Sderot on Monday. One landed near a school in the city and the others in open fields. No injuries or damage were reported.
Two other Qassam rocket were fired at Ashkelon on Monday. One landed in the city's industrial zone, causing damage, but no injuries.
The Islamic Jihad militant group said it fired the two rockets at Ashkelon to mark a visit to the region by "the Zionist Condoleezza Rice", the U.S. secretary of state.
"Let Rice go to hell," senior Hamas leader, Osama al-Muzaini, told Reuters.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh called Monday on the United States to pressure Israel to stop its nearly month-old offensive in the Gaza Strip.
"All that we ask the American administration is to take a moral stance toward the Palestinian people, and the Palestinian suffering and to bear its responsibility as a superpower in this world," he said. He called on America "to restrain the Israeli aggression and stop it."
IDF targets Gaza house in 'Lebanon measure'Earlier Monday, an Israel Air Force helicopter fired a missile at a two-story house at the entrance to the Shati refugee camp next to Gaza City, causing damage but no casualties, Palestinians said.
The house belongs to a Hamas activist. The military said the target was a storage facility for rockets and weapons of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
This was the first time the IDF had targeted a private house in Gaza, indicating that it has begun to apply its "Lebanon measures" on the Gaza Strip.
IDF troops telephoned the owners of the house ahead of the strike, advising them to evacuate. The house was severely damaged, but the residents of the house were able to escape without injury.
An IDF spokesman said the army would continue striking houses under suspicion to prevent militant groups from accumulating weapons. "The defense that satisfies civilians won't stand against terrorist organizations," said the spokesman.
PRC denies reports on end to Qassam fireA spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees has denied reports that Palestinian factions had reached agreement on an end to the Qassam rocket attacks against Israel.
Abu Mujahid said on Sunday that there is no such agreement with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
"This is impossible at a time when Israeli aggression continues against the Palestinian and Lebanese peoples," Abu Mujahid said in an interview with Ramattan, a Palestinian news agency.
He also denied that representatives of the Popular Resistance Committees had participated in a meeting Abbas had organized with other Palestinian factions.
It was reported on Sunday that the heads of Hamas in the Gaza Strip agree in principle to a general agreement with Israel on a cease-fire. The deal reportedly calls for an end to targeted killings and Israel Defense Forces incursions, in return for an end to Qassam rocket attacks.
Abbas met last week with the heads of Hamas and urged them to reach an agreement with Fatah prior to today's arrival of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the region.
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