GAZA CITY ø Israel's military has cut short a major operation in two
Palestinian refugee camps.
Palestinian sources said 15 people were killed and about 80 were injured
in Sunday's military operation in refugee camps in the central Gaza Strip.
They said Israeli forces employed tanks, armored Humvees and AH-64A Apache
attack helicopters in the El Bureij and Nusseirat camps.
The Israeli force, which appeared to have targeted Hamas insurgency
strongholds, made little headway amid fierce resistance from Palestinian
insurgents and civilian operatives. The sources said Hamas and Fatah
insurgents fired anti-tank missiles, rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and
AK-47 assault rifles from homes along the Israeli invasion route while
scores of civilians, many of them teenagers, hurled stones and rushed
Israeli tanks and Humvees.
After several hours, the Israeli force withdrew from Bureij and at least
one tank was disabled, the sources said. They said the military did not
capture any significant weaponry in either Bureij or Nusseirat.
Fifteen Palestinians were killed in the clash with Israeli troops. Nine
of them were said to have been Hamas insurgents and another two were Fatah
operatives. The sources said the rest were civilians, including those from
the ages of 12 to 15.
Israel's military termed the operation a success. But officials said the
participation of hundreds of youngsters in the fighting resulted in a
military order to withdraw before the completion of the operation.
"They [civilians] were not so naive," Deputy Defense Minister Ze'ev Boim
said. "They accompanied the terrorists and they were called by mosques to
serve as human
Israeli officials said the military has been targeting Hamas strongholds
in the Gaza Strip amid alerts for a spate of suicide
operations in Israel. They said Hamas has been building what they termed a
popular army in the Gaza Strip, complete with rockets, missiles and
On Monday, Hamas gunners from the Gaza Strip fired a Kassam-class
short-range missile toward an unspecified Israeli town. Nobody was reported
Hamas was said to have produced the Kassams and mortars in El Bureij.
Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya'alon has linked the weapons production by
Hamas and other Palestinian insurgency groups to the expectation of a
unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
"We are continuing our offensive operations against terrorists, both in
Judea and Samaria [West Bank] and in the Gaza Strip," Ya'alon said during a
tour of the Erez terminal in the northern Gaza Strip. "We will continue
these operations as long as terror strikes us."
In the West Bank, Israeli forces have found an explosives factory in
the village of Anzah south of Jenin. An Israeli military statement said the
laboratory contained empty mortar casings, gunpowder, pipes for
manufacturing bombs, pesticides and a cellular phone attached to electric