One Killed, 9 Hurt as IAF Strikes Hamas Militants' Car in Gaza

One man seriously hurt, two others lightly wounded as 11 Qassams hit western Negev.

A 75-year-old man was killed and nine others hurt in an Israel Air Force strike on a car in Gaza City on Sunday, Palestinian officials said.

The Israel Defense Forces confirmed the air strike, saying it targeted a vehicle carrying two senior members of the Hamas rocket-launching unit.

The two militants were among the injured, which also included eight civilians were injured in the attack, among them four children aged five, 13, 14, and 16.

75-year-old Rabah Haji was critically injured in the strike, and taken to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, where he succumbed to his wounds Sunday evening.

In the latest barrage of Qassam rockets at the western Negev on Sunday, a man sustained moderate to serious wounds when one of 11 rockets landed in the center of the town of Sderot.

The casualty, a taxi driver from Be'er Sheva, was rushed to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon, along with two other people who were lightly wounded.

Three of the rockets also landed in the western Negev, not causing any casualties or damage.

The Hamas military wing claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Two more rockets landed later on Sunday in the Eshkol industrial zone in the western Negev, Army Radio reported. In the afternoon, a rocket caused minor damage on a western Negev kibbutz.

According to the IDF, 420 Qassam rockets and mortar shells have hit Israel since the beginning of the year. In 2005, 487 rockets hit Israel.

IDF cancels air strike to avoid harming Palestinian human shieldsThe IDF canceled a planned air strike on the home of a militant in the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday after several hundred Palestinians barricaded themselves inside the building, an IDF spokesman and witnesses said.

Palestinian sources said the protest against the planned IAF strike was first of its kind to have in effect prevented an air strike. An IDF spokesman said the strike had been called off so to avoid inflicting civilian casualties.

Hundreds of Palestinians formed a human shield around the home of the militant in Beit Lahia late Saturday to prevent an Israel Air Force air strike on the building, residents said.

"The attack plan was canceled because of the people there," the spokesman said. "We differentiate between innocent people and terrorists," he added.

The spokesman vowed Israel would continue its strikes against militants, and accused gunmen of using the civilians in the camp as human shields.

People flocked to the home of Mohammed al-Baroud after he received a warning from the army late Saturday giving him 30 minutes to leave the house. Barhoud is a commander in the Popular Resistance Committees in the town who is in charge of firing homemade rockets at Israel. Crowds of people stood on the rooftop and in the yard of the home.

Israel routinely orders occupants out of homes ahead of air strikes on suspected weapons-storage facilities, saying it wants to avoid casualties. The incident in Beit Lahia was the first time Palestinians have tried to prevent such an airstrike.

The crowd chanted anti-Israel and anti-American slogans, and people said they were prepared to give their lives to protect the home. "Yes to martyrdom. No to surrender," the crowd chanted.

"We came here to protect this fighter, to protect his house and to prove that we are capable of defeating this Zionist policy," said Nizar Rayan, a local Hamas leader who joined the protest,

Earlier Saturday, two Palestinians, ages 16 and 20, were killed and five others wounded Saturday by Israel Defense Forces fire in Beit Lahiya. Three IDF soldiers were lightly injured by an anti-tank missile while operating against Qassam rocket infrastructure in Beit Lahia.

The army said troops fired at a group of armed militants, though it is unclear whether the 16-year-old was among them. Earlier, troops identified an armed Palestinian approaching them, opened fire and killed the man, named as 20-year-old Said Hajouj.

Six Qassam rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip on the western Negev over the weekend. Four of the rockets landed in and around Kibbutz Be'eri, one damaging the windows of the dining room and the others landing in open areas.