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Thursday, November 23, 2006

IDF troops kill two Palestinian militants in northern Gaza

Last update - 16:31 23/11/2006

IDF troops kill two Palestinian militants in northern Gaza

By Nir Hasson, Haaretz Correspondent, Haaretz Service and Agencies

Israel Defense Forces troops killed two Palestinian militants Thursday morning
during raids in the northern Gaza Strip.

Also Thursday, an IDF soldier was lightly wounded by an anti-tank missile in
the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanun, where soldiers are operating in a bid to
halt the rocket fire that has killed two people and wounded several others in
Sderot in the past week.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Thursday escorted foreign diplomats on a tour
of Sderot in order to illustrate the rocket-battered town's proximity to the
Gaza Strip and to highlight the fact that Beit Hanun, from where most of the
Qassam rockets are launched, has a high civilian population.

During the trip, the diplomats visited a local high school, where they heard
stories of the students' experiences in the face of the rocket fire. The
delegation also visited vantage points from where Beit Hanun was clearly

In Gaza, the two militants were killed near the northern Gaza town of Beit
Lahia, in separate incidents. Islamic Jihad militant Jamal Al-Nidr, 22, was
killed by an IDF sniper early Wednesday afternoon. The other militant, a
20-year-old member of Hamas, was killed by fire from an IDF tank unit. Another
militant was wounded in the clashes.

The IDF said troops in the same area saw a figure they deemed suspicious and
opened fire, but believed he had managed to escape unharmed. It was not
immediately clear if this was the same incident in which the Hamas militants
was killed.

The IDF has been carrying out incursions into northern Gaza over the past few
months in an attempt to stop Palestinian rocket fire, so far without success.
On Wednesday, after the death of an Israeli civilian in a rocket strike the
day before, the security cabinet decided to intensify Israel's response to

Militants in the Gaza Strip fired four Qassam rockets into the western Negev
on Thursday morning. Two of them landed in open fields, causing no injuries or
damages. Another one hit a field near the Sderot cemetery, and the fourth
landed near a western Negev community.

Islamic Jihad announced Thursday that a longer-range rocket it is developing
would soon be operational, but did not say when.

Abu Hamza, a spokesman for the militant group, said the rocket was based on
the Russian-made Katyusha, which Lebanese guerrillas fired at northern Israel
during last summer's war.

The rocket has a range of 18 to 20 kilometers - about double the range of
anything the militants have already developed.

In March, the group said it had "many" Russian-made rockets with a 19 to 30
kilometer range, smuggled into Gaza from Egypt.

Islamic Jihad fired several of these rockets into Israel, but the IDF said at
the time that they only traveled three or four kilometers into Israel.

Also Thursday, Police Special Unit officers arrested four Palestinian
militants in the West Bank city of Jenin found in possession of two
Kalashnikov rifles, an M-16 and flak jackets.

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