Palestinian Gunman Killed as Israeli Military Hits Rocket-Firing Cell After Mortar Strike

Daily News Article   —   Posted on February 2, 2009

(by Yaakov Katz, JPost.com) – Minutes after a mortar shell struck an open area in [Israel’s] Eshkol region [today], IAF [Israeli Air Force] warplanes responded, launching a missile at a vehicle in the southern Gaza Strip.

According to witnesses in the area, one person was killed and three others wounded in the attack. The IDF [Israeli Defense Force] said that the men were part of the cell which fired the mortar shell into Israel.

The latest ceasefire violation and its subsequent Israeli military response is the second of its kind in two days. Late Sunday night [Israeli] planes struck Hamas targets throughout Gaza after at least 15 Kassam rockets and mortar shells hit [Israel’s] western Negev since the beginning of the day.

There has been growing frustration in the [Israeli government] at the increasing Palestinian truce violations. On Monday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that while Operation Cast Lead was effective in damaging Hamas’s capability to threaten Israel, the day may come when a similar operation would be necessary.

“The quiet in the South [part of Israel] is a result of the serious blow dealt to Hamas in Gaza, and even if takes a little more time and a few more shots are fired, this is the nature of events of this kind,” Barak told Army Radio, but added that “if we have to, we will hit Hamas again.”

The defense minister also said that Israel was interested in Egyptian cooperation in the battle to halt smuggling into Gaza through tunnels.

Late Sunday evening, the IAF struck rocket-launching areas in northern Gaza, as well as a Hamas security building in central Gaza and six smuggling tunnels on the border.

According to many Palestinians, Israel had sent them messages by phone warning them in advance of an imminent IAF strike. After the attack, there were no reports of casualties.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promised a “harsh” and “disproportionate” response to the renewal of rocket fire into Israel when he addressed the cabinet on Sunday, shortly after a rocket hit near a kindergarten in the Eshkol region.

“The cabinet’s position from the outset was that if firing continues against residents of the South, there will be a sharp Israeli response that would be disproportionate vis-á-vis the firing,” he said.

Palestinian Authority and Hamas leaders, meanwhile, were said to be close to reaching a Gaza cease-fire deal in talks with Egyptian officials in Cairo.

Yaakov Katz, Tovah Lazaroff, and Brenda Gazzar contributed to this report.

Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from the Jerusalem Post. Visit the website at jpost.com. 

Questions

1. Why did Israeli warplanes launch a missile at a vehicle in the southern Gaza Strip today?

2. How many rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel yesterday?

3. a) Who is Ehud Barak?
b) What position is he taking on the latest attacks on Israel from Hamas?

4. What does Mr. Barak say the Israeli government wants the Egyptian government to do?

5. a) What did the Israeli military do before firing on the tunnels used by Palestinians to smuggle weapons etc. into Gaza?
b) Why do you think they did this?

6. a) What is the Israeli Cabinet’s position on responding to attacks from the Palestinians?
b) Read the “Background” below. Do you support the Cabinet position? Explain your answer.


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Background

The article above is about an attack that took place in Israel today. The background below is about yesterday’s attack:
  • Since an unwritten truce ended Israel’s offensive in Gaza two weeks ago, rocket and mortar fire from the Palestinian territory into Israel has increased steadily. Israeli retaliation, including brief ground incursions and bombing runs aimed at rocket launchers and smuggling tunnels, is intensifying.
  • A Palestinian mortar barrage Sunday on a southern Israeli village wounded two soldiers and a civilian. Earlier, a rocket landed near a kindergarten. Hamas has not taken responsibility for the new attacks, which have been claimed by smaller militant groups. But Israel said it holds Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since seizing power in June 2007, responsible for all attacks coming from there.
  • Late Sunday, in response to the Palestinian attacks, Israeli warplanes dropped bombs on the Egypt-Gaza border area where Hamas operates tunnels to smuggle in weapons, food and other goods. Palestinians said residents near the Egypt-Gaza border received calls after nightfall Sunday from the Israeli military advising them to leave ahead of Israeli attacks on smuggling tunnels.
  • Israeli aircraft first flew over the area in southern Gaza setting off sonic booms. Residents said hundreds of people who work in the tunnels fled, then waited in the streets of the border city, Rafah, for the attacks to end so they could return.
  • The Israeli military said warplanes attacked six tunnels and also an unspecified Hamas post in northern Gaza. No casualties were reported from any of the bombings.

Resources

For a map of Israel, go to worldatlas.com.