GAZA CITY ø On late Thursday, Israeli troops killed two Palestinian insurgents who
sought to attack an Israeli community in the central Gaza Strip. The frogmen
were said to have reached the Mediterranean coast off the Gaza Strip and
then launched an attack against the nearby community of Tel Kateifa.
Israeli troops returned fire and killed the insurgents. The insurgents
were found with scuba-diving equipment, a rocket-propelled grenade, AK-47
Kalashnikov rifles and ammunition.
Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. A statement by the group's
military wing said this would be the first of several mass-casualty strikes
against the Jewish state, Middle East Newsline reported.
"This attack is just a prelude to a series of earthquake-like
operations," Hamas said.
Israel's military has been on alert for a Palestinian
air and sea attack.
Israeli military sources said Palestinian insurgents have developed and
deployed small rubber boats and model airplanes filled with explosives for
attacks against Israeli civilian and military targets. The sources said the
weapons were assembled in the Gaza Strip with explosives obtained from
Israeli military sources said the navy has been intensifying patrols
along the Mediterranean to prevent insurgency infiltration. But they
acknowledged that a navy radar and coastal outpost failed to detect the
approach of the two insurgents.
The sources said Hamas and the ruling Fatah movement have been
developing an airborne weapon that resembled an unmanned air vehicle. The
mini-UAV was meant to contain a large amount of explosives and aimed against
Israeli civilian and military targets in the Gaza Strip.
Hamas leaders were said to have gone underground after the three-day
mourning period for Ahmed Yassin, the movement's founder who was
assassinated by Israel on Monday. The assassination has sparked a succession
struggle that pitted Abdul Aziz Rantisi against Khaled Masha'al.
On Thursday, Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif endorsed Rantisi as
head of Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Rantisi claimed leadership on late Tuesday,
but a day later acknowledged the role of Masha'al as a leader of Hamas.