IDF kills 5 Palestinian militants in two West Bank incidents
4 die in Bethlehem, one near Tul Karm; Islamic Jihad: Deaths will saprk retaliation 'deep inside' Israel.
Israel Defense Forces troops killed five Palestinian militants in the West Bank on Wednesday, Palestinian medical and security officials said, hours after the Gaza Strip's Hamas rulers demanded a halt to all Israeli "aggression" as a condition for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. For more, visit Haaretz.com TV.
Hours later, Palestinians in Gaza fired four Qassam rockets towards Sderot, three of which landed in open fields. The rockets caused damage, however there were no injuries reported.
Meanwhile, video footage showed medical officials loading the bodies of the dead Palestinian militants into an ambulance. The IDF issued a statement saying that the four were "senior wanted terrorists from the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization."
Palestinian security officials said one of the dead was the commander of Islamic Jihad in the Bethlehem area, Mohammed Shehadeh, and two others were also members of Islamic Jihad. A fourth man belonged to the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a violent offshoot of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement.
Mohammed Shehadeh Abed Ta'amari, 45, was the head of the Islamic Jihad inBethlehem and was involved in several terrorist attacks in which manyIsraelis were wounded and killed, including a 2000 car bombing in Jerusalem that killed two civilians.
The three other wanted terrorists, Ahmed Halil Salem Balbul, 48, Imad Hasin Mahmud Camel, 35, and Isa Marzuk Saleh Zuhara, 36, were a part of the Islamic Jihad leadership in Bethlehem and were also involved in extensive terrorist activity, the IDF said.
Shehadeh and the Islamic Jihad in Bethlehem were in direct contactwith the Islamic Jihad leadership in Syria from which they receivedoperational orders, the IDF said.
The shooting came shortly after the leader of the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip called for a cease-fire with Israel. Among his conditions was a halt to Israeli military operations in the West Bank. In the past, Gaza militants have claimed the right to retaliate against Israel for its operations in the West Bank.
Islamic Jihad leader Nafez Azzam in Gaza denounced the Israeli raid. "This new crime reflects the true face of the occupation," he said. "Killing still continues while they are talking about the possibility of bringing calm, but if they think that calm means Palestinian surrender, they are mistaken."
Earlier Wednesday, the IDF killed an additional member of the Islamic Jihad sparking threats from the group to "retaliate deep inside the Zionist entity."
The militant, who has been on the defense establishment's wanted list, was killed near the West Bank city of Tul Karm in an exchange of fire that erupted during an arrest operation in the area.
Troops surrounded a house in the village of Saida and demanded that its occupants come out, according to resident Abdel Karim Hammad, whose family lives in the house.
Saleh Karkur, 27, a wanted Islamic Jihad gunman who was staying with the family, refused to come out, a gunfight erupted, and Karkur was shot and killed, Hammad said.
The Israelis then demolished half of the house and arrested Hammad's father for harboring a wanted militant, he said.
Palestinian medics said they took the man's body from the scene.
The IDF confirmed an operation in the village but would not immediately provide details.
Explosives and weapons were found on the militant's body at the end of the battle, according to Israel Radio. There were no injuries among the soldiers.
Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said Israel's raids in the West Bank showed "it was not interested in calm". Hamas, he said, would hold Israel responsible for the consequences.
Reservists fire at Israeli Arab car thief
Meanwhile, IDF reserves soldiers Wednesday morning opened fire on an Israeli Arab man driving a stolen car in the Yatir Forest south of Hebron.
The reservists said they had ordered the man to stop, at which point he sped up, prompting troops to open fire.
The driver was lightly wounded and taken for medical treatment.