Qassams Fired From Gaza Wound Several, One Critically

Three Israeli citizens were injured Sunday from mortar shells and Qassam rockets fired from the Gaza Strip into the Western Negev. The condition of one of the wounded, a worker in the Erez industrial zone, is critical.

Security forces arrested seven wanted Palestinian militants near the West Bank city of Nablus predawn Monday.

A Popular Front For the Liberation of Palestine militant was detained in the village of Awarta south of Nablus, while another wanted Palestinian was detained in the nearby village of Beita al Puka.

Two Hamas militants were arrested north of the West Bank city of Hebron. Two more militants were arrested west of Hebron, among them one Hamas man. A fourth Hamas militant was arrested southwest of the city.

The IDF operated Sunday in the northern Gaza Strip, but pulled out of the area in the evening.

A soldier from the Golani Brigade was lightly wounded and a Palestinian cameraman for Channel 10 was moderately wounded.

Givati forces pulled out from Khan Yunis early Sunday morning, where they had been operating for three days, and redeployed in areas overseeing the Al-Amal neighborhood, still within Palestinian territory. Right after the pullout 15 mortar shells were fired on Gush Katif. There were no casualties.

At the same time Golani Brigade lookouts spotted two Qassam launchers north of the Jabalya refugee camp. The air force fired missiles and destroyed the launchers. In the morning infantry, tank, and engineering corps forces entered the northern Gaza Strip (campaign Autumn Wind), in the area of Jabalya and Beit Hanun.

Anti-tank missiles were fired at IDF forces and one soldier in an armored car was slightly injured.

At the same time Palestinians began a heavy bombardment of Sderot and communities to its north.

Two mortar shells were fired from Beit Lahia at the Erez industrial zone. Nissim Arbib, a 25 year-old Israeli auto-repair worker from Nissanit, sustained serious wounds to the chest and arms and was rushed in critical condition to the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, where he underwent surgery. Another worker was lightly wounded.

Two Qassam rockets landed in the morning in Sderot. One resident was lightly wounded and five suffered from shock. Several cars were hit and one home was damaged.

At 2 P.M. two other rockes landed, one near the infirmary in Kibbutz Nir Am. A car was damaged but there were no casualties. A second rocket fell on the outskirts of Sderot, but was not found when the area was searched. A final rocket fell in the evening in an open field near the town.

In the evening IDF forces left the northern Gaza Strip but remained deployed near the border. IDF sources said operations in the area will continue if necessary in response to rocket fire.

The military arm of Hamas and the Popular Front took responsibility for firing the mortar shells and Qassams at the settlements in the Gaza Strip and the Erez checkpoint.

At the time of the bombardment and the IDF military operation, PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) was visiting the Jabalya refugee camps as part of his election campaign, and gave a speech less than 1 km away from the site of IDF operations in the northern Gaza Strip.

In the West Bank, the military court in Samaria sentenced Tarek Hussein, an Islamic Jihad activist from Qalqilya, to life in prison for the murder of seven-year old Noam Leibowitz in a terror attack on the Highway No. 6 in June 2003.

Hussein was commander of the cell that planned the ambush and fired at the car.