Army sources said 15 terrorists have been targeted so far, adding that during the operation a number of antitank missiles were fired at IDF forces. The IDF estimates that at least 20 advanced antitank missiles similar to those used by Hizbullah in Lebanon have been smuggled into the Strip from Egypt through underground tunnels along the Philadelphi Route.
With the conclusion of the fighting in the north, army officials have repeatedly warned of attempts by Palestinian terror groups to arm themselves with advanced antitank missiles, with the assistance of Syrian and Iran.
About two months ago Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin said during a cabinet meeting that "the intensification of terror sources in Gaza is a strategic problem which, if not treated properly, will result in a reality like in Lebanon. We don't have to wait three years and then launch investigations."
Diskin said that the "Philadelphi Route is breached, and recently a number of tons of explosives and hundreds of weapons have entered. Recently, USD 1.5 million has been smuggled in through Rafah by the Hamas Agriculture Ministry, and terror experts have also entered."
IAF strikes in Beit Lahiya
"In Judea and Samaria Hizbullah is smuggling in money in large sums and encouraging terrorist attacks against Israel. Nasrallah is perceived as a national hero among terror organizations, and they are attempting to learn from him. They understand the power of the antitank missile and guerilla fighting, as using underground bunkers," he said.
IDF officials said any new threat from Gaza forces the army to alter its method of operation, adding that the smuggling of weapons into the Strip is expected to continue.
Eight Palestinians were killed by IDF fire in Gaza during the past 24 hours; following an IDF attack on the Strip Thursday night Qassam rockets were launched toward Sderot, hitting an electrical cable and plunging part of the town into darkness.
On Friday three Hamas terrorists were killed in an IAF air strike on a vehicle in the town of Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza.
The army said the three belonged to a cell responsible for firing Qassam rockets at Sderot on Thursday and Friday's strike prevented them from launching more rockets.
Earlier Friday, Palestinian sources told Reuters that Israel Defense Forces troops shot dead a Palestinian woman in a Gaza Strip village where soldiers and gunmen clashed.
Palestinian doctors said the woman was shot by an Israeli sniper while she was standing outside her home in southern Gaza.
An Israeli army spokesman said Israeli forces opened fire at armed Palestinians in the area and hit one of them.
The IDF has recently set up a temporary detention center near the border with the Gaza Strip where dozens of Palestinian men arrested by troops operating in the tiny coastal strip are interrogated each day.
The army said soldiers have been instructed to treat the detainees in a humane manner and stressed that most men are released after undergoing interrogation.