Israel takes aim at leaders of rocket attackes

Monday, August 30, 2004

GAZA CITY Israel's military has targeted senior insurgency operatives in the Gaza Strip.

The operatives were deemed as leading figures in the Palestinian missile strikes from the northern Gaza Strip against Israeli civilian targets. More than a dozen people have been injured in Palestinian missile strikes on the Israeli city of Sderot over the past two weeks.

On Thursday, Palestinian sources said an Israel Air Force AH-64A Apache attack helicopter fired a missile toward the home of Shadi Abu Awamer in Gaza City. Awamer, a Fatah operative, was killed and several others were injured.

Israeli military sources refused to confirm the attack and said Awamer was killed in an explosion in his apartment. They described Awamer as a key organizer of the development and production of the Nasser-3 short-range missile. The Nasser-3 has been described as an enhanced version of the Hamas-developed Kassam.

On Thursday, Palestinian gunners fired two Nasser-3 short-range missiles toward Israel. Several Sderot residents were injured.

Earlier, an Israeli helicopter strike led to the injury of another leading operative. Mohammed Sheik Halil was badly hurt in a missile attack on his home in the southern town of Rafah. Military sources confirmed the attack on Halil's home.

Halil was regarded as a leading operative in Rafah, one of the strongholds of the Palestinian insurgency. Halil was termed a commander of the Iranian-sponsored Islamic Jihad. Several other insurgents were injured in the Israeli strike.

Despite a nearly two-month campaign, Israel's military has failed to stop the barrage of Palestinian missiles against Sderot or Israeli communities in the Gaza Strip. Military sources said missile production was taking place in a range of locations in Gaza City and the adjacent Jabalya refugee camp.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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