Israeli raids Gaza after rocket attack

Special to World
Monday, February 2, 2004

GAZA CITY Israel's military has completed a search-and-destroy operation for Palestinian rockets and missiles in the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli operation took place in and around Gaza City, where the Palestinian Authority and insurgency groups maintain a range of missile, rocket and mortar facilities. Israeli and Palestinian sources said a five-man Islamic Jihad squad opened with an anti-tank rocket attack on the Israeli community of Netsarim on early Wednesday.

Israeli troops, backed by tanks and armored personnel carriers, responded quickly. They entered a neighborhood south of Gaza City and raided buildings said to have contained weapons workshops.

Palestinian insurgents and PA forces responded with mortar, rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank missile fire in the most intense fighting in Gaza City in 2004. Palestinian sources said nine people, most of them insurgents from the Islamic Jihad, were killed.

Israeli military sources said the operation was meant to remove the threat of Palestinian missiles, rockets and mortars from Israeli communities in the Gaza Strip. Over the past two weeks, Palestinian gunners have fired the Kassam-2 short-range missile and mortars toward Israeli communities in the northern and central part of the Gaza Strip.

More than 100 mortars were fired by Palestinian gunners toward Netsarim since December, military sources said. The range of Palestinian mortars has been reported at less than two kilometers.

"This time, we succeeded in striking the terrorists," a senior Israeli commander said.

On Thursday, Jihad said its gunners fired four rockets toward the Israeli community of Neve Dekalim on late Wednesday. The Jihad statement said its Saraya rocket hit targets in Neve Dekalim, east of Khan Yunis.

Israel's military did not confirm the attack.

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