IDF kills 7 Palestinians in Gaza, West Bank
(VIDEO) For first time since disengagement, special IDF unit enters heart of Palestinian territory in northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahiya, hits group of terrorists planning to fire Qassam rockets at Israel; Palestinians say four killed, eight wounded by IAF missile; three other Palestinian gunmen killed by soldiers operating in West Bank
VIDEO - Ground operation inside Gaza Strip:For the first time since the disengagement, a special IDF unit entered Palestinian territories in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahiya Monday night, hitting a group of terrorists planning to fire Qassam rockets at Israel.
Gaza operation (Video: Reuters)
Simultaneously, an IAF helicopter fired a missile at other gunmen in the area. Palestinian sources said four Palestinians were killed and eight were wounded, but only one casualty arrived at the hospital so far.
There were no injuries among the IDF soldiers.
The casualties are apparently members of the Islamic Jihad. The special force ambushed the group, and army officials say the force attacked the group aided by a combat helicopter.
The Palestinians, however, claim that they spotted the soldiers and that the gunmen and National Security personnel were the first to open fire. According to the Palestinians, in the midst of the fire exchanges the helicopter fired a missile, killing the gunmen.
'We will reach terror groups wherever they are'
The Palestinians reported of great confusion and panic in the area. IDF officials noted that the incident once again illustrates the army's capability.
"We will reach the Qassam launching groups and the terror groups wherever they are and will use any means required," they said.
The operation was courageous both on the planning and on the operational aspect, mainly because it involved high risks combined with an ability to better hit the terrorists.
Injured evacuated (Photo: AFP)
Monday night's operation does not necessarily point to a close ground operation, but the combination of fighters from special combat units inside the Strip constitutes a new high in the IDF's operations against terrorists.
Up to now, the army only passed a few dozens of meters into the Palestinian territory with the aim of "opening a route" in incidents in which the army suspected explosive devices were placed along the border fence. This was conducted mainly in the past weeks following Hamas' rise to power.
Monday night's operation was not another passive defensive move, but rather an active move, in which a special military forces entered the Palestinian territories in order to hit Qassam launching groups.
Earlier Monday, a mortar shell landed near the Nahal Oz army base in the western Negev, causing damage.
Simultaneously, another shell and a Qassam rocket fell in an open area in the western Negev. There were no reports of injuries in all incidents.
The rocket fire from the Gaza Strip toward Israel continued as the IDF launched an enhanced move Monday in terms of artillery fire at territories in the northern Strip.
The IDF fired more than 450 shells at areas in the northern Gaza Strip in one day, using artillery batteries. The fire was mainly targeted at the areas of the evacuated settlements of Dugit, Elei Sinai and Nisanit, and was aimed at deterring and distancing the launching groups.
Gunmen in Kabatiya, Tuesday morning (Photo: AFP)
In other incidents early Tuesday, IDF forces operating in the Balata refugee camp in Nablus shot dead an armed Palestinian, who was later identified as 17-year-old Hani Ska, and in the south soldiers killed a man who was attempting to infiltrate Israel from Egypt.
In addition, 2 Islamic Jihad terrorists were killed by army forces operating in Qabatiyeh, near Nablus. Five other gunmen were injured in the clash, but Palestinian sources said the regional commanders of Islamic Jihad and al-Aqsda Brigades were able to escape unharmed. According to the Palestinians, another Fatah member was killed near Tul Karm, but IDF sources have not verified the report as of yet.
Hanan Greenberg and Efrat Weiss contributed to the report