Israel Bombards Rocketeers In Gaza Strip

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The New York Sun

BEIT LAHIYA, Gaza Strip — A series of Israeli attacks in the northern Gaza Strip yesterday left six Palestinian Arabs dead, including two children, and at least 10 wounded, casting doubt on the prospects of a cease-fire initiative being circulated among local militant groups by the Palestinian Arab leader, Mahmoud Abbas.

One shell hit a parking lot here, killing three and injuring 10, according to authorities.Witnesses said a second shell in another area of Beit Lahiya apparently struck a donkey cart, killing a 60-year-old woman and her 12-year-old grandson.

The area around Beit Lahiya is a favored spot for Palestinian Arab militants firing rockets into southern Israel. The twin smokestacks of the power plant in the Israeli city of Ashkelon are clearly visible, separated only by the bare ground that used to contain several Israeli settlements.

Early yesterday morning, militiamen from Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade fired several rockets toward Ashkelon.

“Oh sure, they launch from all over the place around here,” said Nasser Arasha, a 36-year-old unemployed day laborer and resident of the Naba apartment complex in this Gaza border town.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said more than 50 rockets had been fired into Israel from the Beit Lahiya region in the past few weeks.

“The launching of rockets has continued, so I guess you could say we decided to step things up,” she said.

The Israeli move to stem the attacks included a rocket attack launched from an Apache helicopter Sunday night on a house in the Gaza City’s Nasr neighborhood. Residents of the house said they received a call about a half-hour before the attack from someone identifying themselves as Israeli intelligence and warning them to evacuate.

The Israeli army spokeswoman said the helicopter targeted a known warehouse storing rockets for the Islamic Jihad militia. Neighbors in the area confirmed that the owner of the house is a prominent Islamic Jihad member.

The Israeli anti-rocket campaign also includes regular shelling of the areas militants like to use as launching grounds.

“We didn’t target the apartment complex,” the army spokeswomen said. “But the cells do fire from that building.”

The New York Sun

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