Israel struck Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza hard on
Monday. The repeated assaults in such a short time were
expected to have a cumulative effect, aside from the
individual shocks. The accuracy of the strikes and the
indication of the underlying intelligence information implied
forces terrorists to work with great caution. Reportedly,
Palestinian leaders communicate with their followers only
through written notes, fearing that any other means are
monitored by Israel.
Early on Monday morning at about 8 am, as part of Israel's
preventive activity against Hamas and other terror
organizations in the Gaza Strip, Israel Air Force (IAF)
planes targeted a Hamas workshop used to produce Qassam
rockets and other weapons in the Sajaita neighborhood of Gaza
City. The IDF said the weaponry enables Hamas to carry out
attacks against Israel and includes Qassam rockets, mortars,
antitank missiles and explosive devices.
According to Palestinian sources, seven people were wounded
in the strike, including two toddlers aged 2 and 3. This was
Palestinian sources said the structure belongs to Amar
Mushtaha, a Hamas military activist. Mushtaha was lightly
wounded, and was extracted from beneath the rubble. The
building is about 200 meters from the home of top Islamic
Jihad official Abdullah Shami, who was not a target.
About three hours later, IAF helicopters struck a vehicle
driven by two Hamas operatives who were involved in weapons
production and storage including Qassam rockets, mortars,
explosive material and other devices used in terror attacks
against Israeli targets. The two Hamas members were
One was Haled Said Matzri, born 1967, a resident of Gaza and
a member of Hamas and a senior member of the production line
of Qassam rockets and mortars.
Israel Army sources said that the Palestinians were spotted
loading the truck with material taken from the building
bombed earlier in the day. The pickup had stopped at a
traffic light on a busy street crowded with school children,
when the missiles hit the front of the vehicle. According to
Palestinian sources, a kindergarten and an elementary school
had just let out students for the day but none of them were
hurt. According to the international rules of warfare, the
Hamas operatives must not conduct military operations in
civilian areas, and they bear responsibility for any
casualties caused by legitimate attacks on them. The driver
behind their pickup truck died of injuries he sustained in
the attack, according to Palestinian reports.
About an hour-and-a-half later, at 12.25 p.m., helicopters
fired rockets at a different Hamas-owned warehouse in which
weapons, mortar shells, Qassam rockets, and explosives were
stored. Israeli security officials said the building was
located in an open area outside of Gaza City, and the size of
the explosion caused by the attack showed that it had been
full of weapons and explosives.
Monday night, IDF troops were sent to the area of Kibbutz
Nahal Oz after reports of an attempt to infiltrate into
Israel from the Gaza Strip. The troops killed two Hamas men,
whose bodies were booby-trapped. The IDF said that forces
then followed a fleeing vehicle carrying four militants who
had assisted the infiltrators.
Helicopters fired a missile at the vehicle in the densely
populated Nusseirat refugee camp, killing the four
passengers. Palestinian sources said that the car was owned
by Imad Akel, a senior member of the Hamas military wing, but
it was not clear whether he was killed in the attack. Some
sources reported that he was killed.
According to Palestinian reports, two more missiles were
fired at the car killing five civilians, among them a doctor,
and wounding some 50 people who had rushed to the vehicle
after the first attack.
Later that night the IDF again attacked the warehouse and
workshop in the Sajaita neighborhood, apparently with the aim
of destroying it completely. Most of the two-story house,
which had been under construction, was demolished.
All told, according to Israeli and Palestinian sources,
eleven Palestinians were killed and some 80 people were
injured Monday in the IDF attacks. At least 8 of those killed
were militants, and perhaps more.
Maj. Sharon Feingold, an army spokeswoman, expressed regret
for any civilian casualties, saying militants deliberately
placed their weapons depots and factories "well into the
heart of Palestinian towns."
Government officials promised no letup.
"The Israeli military will continue to act to foil terror
attacks, capture murderers and liquidate terror
organizations," Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Monday in a
speech to the Knesset. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said
Israel will continue attacking terrorist targets "everywhere
and anywhere at any time." Security officials said the aim of
the air strikes was to damage Hamas's capability to wage
Defense minister Mofaz decided to mobilize several hundred
reserve soldiers to bolster the Israel Defense Forces after
terrorists threatened renewed attacks. In pronouncements that
are routine after such incidents, Hamas leaders vowed to
stage an attack of such magnitude that it would "shake Tel
Aviv." They have many such outstanding vows.
Military intelligence sources say that Hamas does not lack
any motivation to attack and
The IDF said that its attacks were carried out due to the
large number of Qassam rockets fired recently from the Gaza
Strip into Israel, and not as a response to the killing of
three soldiers on Sunday near Ofra Ramallah.
Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei condemned the strikes,
saying they made it harder for him to organize talks on
A delegation of Palestinians flew to the United States to
press their case against Israel. The group was headed by
Palestinian legislator Hatem Abdul Kader, who said the main
purpose was to discuss Israel's security fence and
construction in Israeli settlements.
Observers said the unspoken subtext was to convince U.S.
officials that the Palestinians are interested in peace,
despite Arafat's weak response to the bombing of the American
When PA. security officials met with the FBI team
investigating the murder of three U.S. security men in a
roadside bombing in the Gaza Strip, the PA. officials briefed
the FBI team on their investigation, but wouldn't let the
Americans visit those arrested in connection with the attack,
let alone interrogate them.
The three guards were killed and a U.S. Embassy official was
wounded Oct. 15 when a 220-pound bomb was set off by remote
control under a Chevrolet Suburban car traveling in a U.S.
diplomatic convoy near the Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun.
Palestinian security forces arrested seven suspects a day
later but no evidence was given that they were connected to
the American attack. The organization they are affiliated
with, a minor group, denied that it had carried out the
attack. Palestinian and Israeli sources said the members
arrested in connection with the convoy bombing have strong
ties to PA. security services. Such ties are typical among
sponsors of terrorist attacks.
Gunmen from the Al-Aksa Brigade, the terrorist wing of PA.
President Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, ambushed and killed
three Israeli soldiers near Ramallah on Sunday. Palestinian
militants also fired six Qassam rockets at Israeli
settlements on Sunday.