9 Palestinians Killed in Weekend Fighting

Nine Palestinians, including two young teens, were killed and more than 20 were injured as a result of weekend Israel Defense Forces operations in the Gaza Strip.

Seven of the deaths occurred on Friday in the vicinity of the Bureij refugee camp, in the central strip. The dead were named as Munzar Abu Hawishal, a Hamas activist; Shihab Abu Zbeid, 17; Jihad Abu Zbeid, 19; Yusuf al-Ma'ari, 17; Abd al-Razq Nufal, 19; Riad al-Aweni, 12; and Yusuf Sirhan,13.

In a separate incident in Khan Yunis on Friday, Hamas activists Mohammed al-Najar and Ayman al-Najar were killed. There were no Israeli injuries in the fighting, which IDF sources said was aimed at crippling the terror infrastructure and preventing the firing of missiles into Israel, as well as keeping Palestinian snipers away from the border area.

The IDF troops operating near Bureij encountered heavy fire from militants using anti-tank missiles, mortar shells, RPGs and guns.

Hamas spokesman Taher al-Nounou said yesterday that the situation in Gaza, as well as the Palestinian people, is at the brink of disaster.

"The Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip has decided to end the siege and the government will support it, and this could happen any moment," Nounou said. He rejected claims that this was a veiled threat against Egypt. He said that 80 percent of the vehicles in Gaza are out of commission due to the fuel shortage and that the pumping of water could stop at any moment because of the lack of fuel.

The head of the IDF's Coordination and Liaison Administration in Gaza, Colonel Nir Peres, said Hamas is attempting to create an artificial humanitarian crisis. He said the long lines at gas stations are the result of a coordinated campaign by Hamas, which purposely prevents the transfer of fuel from the Nahal Oz fuel depot to the stations.

"In the past two weeks the fuel in the depot could have been pumped out and distributed to the gas stations, but that was not done, in contrast to the regular transfers of diesel fuel to the power stations. Currently, there are about 188,000 liters of gasoline and more than 800,000 liters of diesel fuel in tanks on the Palestinian side," Peres said.