On Jan. 29, Hamas fired several Kassam-class, short-range missiles into
Israel. The missiles fell near the southern city of Sderot.
Hours earlier, an Israeli warplane struck a weapons production facility
in the southern Gaza town of Rafah This marked the first Israeli attack on a
building in the Gaza Strip since the unilateral Israeli ceasefire on Jan.
"The Israel Defense Forces will respond to any terror attacks in
accordance with decisions made by the Israeli government," the government
Officials said the military expects an escalation in missile and rocket
fire from the Gaza Strip. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he canceled a
visit to the United States to plan for any renewed conflict with Hamas.
The Israel Air Force has focused its air strikes on Rafah, where Hamas
operates an estimated 800 tunnels, some of them used to smuggle weapons from
neighboring Egypt. On Jan. 29, a fire erupted in a tunnel and several
Palestinians were said to have been killed or injured.
The military described one of its targets as a former Hamas officer who
joined Al Qaida. The operative was identified as Mahmoud Samiri, 25, said to
have been part of an improvised explosive device squad that killed an
Israeli officer and injured three soldiers on Jan. 27.
"In addition, Samiri is known for taking part in the detonation of an
explosive device that killed two Israel Defense Forces soldiers near Kisufim
in March 2008," the military said.