IAF Hits Gaza After Brace of Rocket Strikes on Southern Israel

IDF: Building used by Palestinian militants; Palestinian officials say Islamic Jihad charity also hit.

Israel Air Force jets launched a series of air strikes in the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday morning, after two rounds of Qassam rockets were fired from the area into southern Israel.

The IAF missiles hit a building in Gaza City used by Palestinian militant organizations, an Israel Defense Forces spokesperson said.

Palestinian sources said the targets of the strike were an abandoned metal workshop and a charity run by Islamic Jihad.

A military spokesman said the Islamic Jihad charity was a front for the disbursement of payments to the families of dead militants and other terror-related activity. Missiles also hit open fields where homemade rockets had been launched in recent days, a military source said.

The IDF said that there were no casualties in the strikes. Palestinian sources said that a by-stander was lightly wounded by flying shrapnel.

On Saturday, Palestinians fired three Qassam rockets at an Israeli town north of the Gaza border.

The Gaza militants said they fired the rockets as a response to an incident earlier in the day when an Israeli naval patrol vessel fired on a Palestinian fishing boat, killing the fisherman aboard.

IDF troops blasted artillery at the Gaza Strip in retalliation for the first two Qassam rockets.

The Qassam rockets all landed in an open field in a town in the western Negev. No injuries or damages were reported.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz instructed the IDF to respond fiercly to Qassam attacks from Gaza. He also sent a message to Palestinians, telling them to cease their attacks.

Navy sinks boat, killing one The Israel Navy vessel sank the Palestinian fishing boat off the coast of southern Gaza following a pre-dawn echange of fire Saturday.

According to a military source, the boat had entered prohibited waters from the direction of Egypt and ignored an order to stop. When the Israeli forces sent warning shots into the air, Palestinians on the boat fired at the navy ship. The navy said its vessel was then also fired on from the shore.

The navy returned fire, killing 22-year-old Ziad Dardawel. No IDF soldiers were hurt.

The medics said the Palestinian killed in the incident had been on a fishing trip. Palestinian security sources maintained that the boat had been in an authorized fishing area, and that the navy fired on the boat and on another boat without provocation.

Israel's navy has largely blockaded Gaza's coast during much of a five-year-old Palestinian uprising, forcing Palestinian boats to stay close to shore.

Israel says it is a security measure to prevent weapons smuggling by sea and attacks on Israelis. Palestinians say it is collective punishment that has crippled Gaza's fishing industry.

Most of the restrictions have remained in place since Israel's Gaza pullout in September.

A similar altercation occured three weeks ago. In that incident, a 17-year-old Palestinian was killed.

IDF kills Palestinian near Gaza border In an unrelated incident, Israel Defense Forces soldiers shot dead a Palestinian near the Gaza border on Friday after he and two others tried to cross illegally into Israel, Palestinian medics said.

An IDF spokeswoman said troops at an army post near the frontier spotted the three men climbing the border fence and opened fire at them. All three were hit and the army called for ambulances to take them back to Gaza, she said.

Palestinian medics said two men were wounded and one was found dead under an olive tree with a bullet hole in his head. Palestinian security officials said Sayid Abu Libdeh, 15, was killed and the two other people with him were wounded.

They said the three were mentally retarded and were trying to enter Israel in search of work. No weapons were found among them.

Similar violent incidents have occurred in recent months despite a ceasefire Israeli and Palestinian leaders declared in February. The army spokeswoman said troops had detained three Palestinians who infiltrated the Gaza border earlier in the day.