Qassam Fire Injures One, Guard Hurt in W. Bank Shooting

An Israeli citizen was seriously injured yesterday in a shooting incident near Ramallah. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades of Fatah claimed responsibility for the shooting. In another incident, a 24 year-old suffered moderate injuries from the shrapnel of a Qassam rocket that landed near Sderot. The Islamic Jihad took responsibility for the rocket attacks.

The attack in the West Bank occured close to 11 A.M., at a Palestinian gas station near the village of Dir Kadis. The 42-year-old security guard who accompanied a tanker that belonged to an Israeli company and was delivering fuel to the station, had left the vehicle and gone to the bathroom in the building.

As the guard was making his way back to the vehicle, a Mazda sedan with three or four Palestinians passed by the station, firing at the Israeli guard. He suffered severe injuries to his head and leg. He was wearing a bullet-proof vest, but was hit in parts of his body that were not protected.

The other Israelis at the station evacuated the security guard to the military post near the village of Na'alin. After receiving emergency medical treatment he was evacuated to Tel Hashomer Hospital where he is in serious condition.

The first time Israel Defense Forces in the area heard of the incident was when the injured man was delivered to the post near Na'alin. Large forces were rushed to the area and a search for the attackers got under way.

Their abandoned vehicle was found near a dirt road block close to Na'alin. More than 20 spent shells of AK-47 rifles were found in the car, as well as face masks. The army believes that the shooters used two different rifles, firing at least 40 bullets.

IDF trackers found the footprints of the attackers. Later, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade of Fatah claimed responsibility for the attack.

This is the second shooting incident in the area in several weeks. In the previous attack, one Israeli suffered moderate injuries and two others were lightly hurt. Last month, five Israelis and two soldiers were injured in shooting incidents, three in the area of Ramallah.

Security forces released for publication yesterday that a four-man Islamic Jihad cell operating in the Bethlehem area was recently arrested.

Meanwhile, early yesterday morning four Qassam rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip against Israeli territory. The last rocket struck near a gas station near Sha'ar Hanegev close to Sderot at about 6 P.M. A young man suffered moderate injuries due to shrapnel in his abdomen, and was evacuated to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon. Several others were treated for shock on the scene.

Alon Schuster, chairman of the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council, complained yesterday that funds that have been promised to underwrite reinforcement of public structures, including Sapir Academic College nearby, have not been received.

He cited government decisions made when Shaul Mofaz was defense minister, and also one made by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert several months ago, to provide funding to fortify homes of residents against rocket strikes, which he said have not been carried out.