A 91-year-old man and his 17-year-old grandson were among three Palestinians killed by Israel Defense Forces tank shells near the Gaza-Israel border yesterday.
It appears the grandfather and grandson, Ibrahim Abu Assad and Hussam Abu Assad, were civilians who got caught in an attack on a militant aiming an antitank rocket at Israeli soldiers near the Gaza border fence, in the northern Strip. It was not immediately clear whether the third casualty, identified as Liad Abbu Uda, 21, was the militant.
Palestinian militants fired four mortar shells on southern Israel yesterday, a continuation of a recent increase in rocket and mortar fire that has contributed to a rise in tension ahead of tomorrow's peace talks in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh. The talks come a day after the 17th anniversary of the signing of the Oslo Accords.
Three rockets or mortar shells were also fired over the Rosh Hashanah holiday. No Israelis were injured in any of the attacks.
Shin Bet security service chief Yuval Diskin said yesterday that Israel has received intelligence indicating planned terror attacks aimed at scuttling the renewed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
Diskin told ministers at yesterday's weekly cabinet meeting that the Hamas military wing in Gaza is behind the two separate terror attacks that took place two weeks ago, one near Ramallah and one near Hebron, in which Palestinian gunmen killed four Israelis and wounded two others.
Hamas appears to be exerting pressure on its cells in the West Bank to go back to carrying out terror attacks, as well as lifting some of the restraints it had imposed on smaller militant factions in Gaza, which had led to a decrease in rocket attacks in the last few months.
Israeli security officials said Hamas and other militant groups have intensified their efforts to undermine direct talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders. However Hamas, which has the support of Iran and other radical Islamist forces in the region, does not appear to be directly involved in the rocket fire coming from Gaza.
The relative quiet that has prevailed over the past two years is likely to be shattered even further as two of Israel's largest security concerns - Palestinian terrorism and a nuclear Iran - become increasingly intertwined.
Recent incidents that have led to a rise in regional tension include rocket fire from Egypt's Sinai Peninsula in August (and in April before that ), which hit Eilat and Aqaba, Jordan. The attack was ordered by the head of the Hamas military wing in Gaza, Ahmed Jabari, and spurred a harsh response from Egypt.
Mohammed Ali Ibrahim, the editor-in-chief of the Egyptian newspaper Al-Gomhuria, wrote at the time that Hamas, which he referred to as "the Iranian gang ruling in Gaza" was acting on the orders of Tehran and "has no Arab agenda."
"It's our right to use an iron fist to hit these lowlifes who were taught to be traitors and to stick a knife in your back," he wrote.
A short time later, Cairo prevented Hamas leaders from leaving Gaza through Egypt to make the pilgrimage to Mecca.
France points to training camps in Gaza
Somewhat further afield, French intelligence services announced over the weekend that they uncovered a Palestinian plan to carry out an attack at a pro-Israel rally that took place early this year in Paris.
The intelligence services said several French citizens, including those of Palestinian or North African origin, snuck into Gaza to undergo extensive training in a terrorist camp - indicating the Gaza Strip has become the kind of hotbed of terrorism European Muslims go to for training, as has been the case with Afghanistan and Iraq as well.
The Gaza training camp was apparently run by a radical group identified with the global jihad. A number of the French citizens left Gaza after several months but were arrested in Egypt, en route to France.
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