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Israel launches 5 attacks on Gaza Strip

Special to World Tribune.com
MIDDLE EAST NEWSLINE
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

GAZA CITY Israel has launched a series of attacks on Palestinian insurgency targets in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli forces killed 10 Palestinians in five separate strikes in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli air strikes came one day after Hamas fired eight Kassam-class short-range missiles toward Israel. Two of the missiles landed in the Israeli city of Sderot.

The Palestinian Authority said seven Palestinians were killed and 70 were injured in two separate attacks on Gaza Strip on late Monday. Most of the casualties took place during a helicopter missile attack on a suspected Palestinian insurgency vehicle in the Nusseirat refugee camp.

A PA statement said three missiles were fired and struck passersby in Nusseirat. Palestinian witnesses said the first missile missed the car and its passengers escaped. The Israeli helicopter fired the second and third missiles after a crowd surrounded the abandoned car.

Israeli military sources said the incident began when a suspicious Palestinian vehicle approached the security fence that divides Israel from the Gaza Strip. An Israeli military force opened fire and two suspected Palestinian insurgents were killed.

Another three insurgents fled in a waiting car, the military sources said. They said an Israeli AH-64A pursued the car to Nusseirat where it fired two missiles.

Hamas said it was the target of the Israeli attack and vowed revenge. Overnight Tuesday, Hamas gunners fired a Kassam missile toward Israel.

During the Nusseirat attack, Israeli F-16 multi-role fighters fired missiles toward a suspected Hamas weapons arsenal and laboratory in Gaza City. It was the second attack on the building on Monday and 11 Palestinians were said to have been injured.

Other Israeli targets focused on Islamic insurgency strongholds in Gaza City. They include a suspected Kassam missile factory, a Kassam warehouse and a car that contained two Hamas insurgents.

"The Hamas members were involved in the production and storage of weapons, including Kassam rockets, mortars, explosive material and devices, used in terror attacks against Israeli targets," an Israeli military statement said.

The statement said an Israeli helicopter, later identified as the AH-64A, targeted a building in Gaza City, used to store weapons and explosive materials. The building was also said to have been used by Hamas to prepare Kassam missiles, mortars and bombs.

In Washington, the State Department urged Americans to leave the Gaza Strip amid the violence. Several hundred Americans live or work in the area. "The potential for further terrorist acts remains high," a department travel advisory said.

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