View Full Version : Aircraft Strike Hamas Training Camp In Town Of Rafah

06-28-2006, 12:38 PM
Aircraft strike Hamas training camp in town of Rafah



Israeli aircraft struck a Hamas training camp in the Gaza Strip town of Rafah on Wednesday afternoon, witnesses said.

The two missiles fell about 200 meters apart, one in an empty training camp for Hamas, witnesses said. The other rocket hit an empty field nearby, and witnesses said they saw militants running away from the missile. Ambulances had no immediate reports of injuries.

The IDF had no immediate comment.

At nearly the same time, OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Yoav Gallant told reporters in a press conference that kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit was still in the Gaza Strip.

Five minutes after the press conference, a Kassam rocket landed a few hundred meters from where reporters were standing.

At around 2 p.m. Wednesday, Israeli fighter jets struck the northern Gaza Strip, firing missiles at open areas. The strike is part of the army's "pressure pot" tactic, meant to turn up pressure on Gaza by placement of troops and weapons fire with a minimum of casualties.

Armored personnel carriers were stationed outside northern Gaza, and were expected to move in later in the day.

Earlier in the day, the IDF took control of the abandoned airport in Dahaniyeh and the town of Shuka in southern Gaza in a move to cement their foothold in areas east of Rafah, a city on the Egyptian border.

The area of Dahaniyeh represents a strategic control and observation point over the area of Rafah and the southern Gaza Strip. So far there has been one incident of gunfire and anti-tank missile fire at the forces, but no injuries or damage were reported.

Palestinian media reported that soldiers asked all residents of Shuka to leave. The IDF denied the report, but said that all gunmen and terror operatives in the town had been forced to flee.

Meanwhile, Palestinian residents of the eastern neighborhoods of Rafah began fleeing, reportedly by the thousands, to areas east of the city. Armed men took positions on rooftops and asked remaining residents to leave, Israel Radio reported. Palestinian television reported that the IAF was indiscriminately bombing the city.

In the Shajaiyeh neighborhood of Gaza City, not far from the fence, gunmen took up positions across from the blaring headlights of Israeli vehicles, and Israeli attack helicopters hovered overhead.

Telling residents to leave the area, the gunmen piled gasoline-soaked tires in the streets. Earlier, bulldozers blocked some of the main roads with piles of sand and dirt to try to slow down Israeli tanks.

The Israeli government emphasized that liability for the operation lies with the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas.

All this came as part of a major incursion into the Gaza Strip, launched overnight after exhausting all diplomatic efforts to secure the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

An army source said that the purpose of the operation, dubbed Summer Rains, was to place pressure on the Palestinians to the point that they would decide to release Gilad Shalit. "We will stay here as long as necessary until we return with the kidnapped IDF soldier," the source said. The other objective was to try to curb the launching of Kassam rockets at Israel.

In response to the offensive, the Popular Resistance Committees threatened they would kill 18-year-old Itamar resident Eliyahu Asheri - whom they claimed to have kidnapped - if Israel did not cease its military activity in the Gaza Strip. Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad also said that the incursion was a mistake and would cost Israel dearly.

The incursion began shortly before midnight, when IAF aircraft blew up three main bridges, located along the main route connecting between the northern and southern parts of the strip. The objective was to make movement more difficult for Shalit's kidnappers.

The Air Force also struck an electrical transformer station south of Gaza city, cutting the power supply from portions of the region. Palestinian sources said that the IDF shot at least nine missiles at the electric station. A large fire erupted, burning turbines and fuel supplies. Still, some power was restored through wires connected to an Israeli power supply, Israel Radio reported.

An IDF spokesperson told The Jerusalem Post that there was little Palestinian resistance to the incursion. He denied a report claiming that the Erez crossing had been opened in preparation for entry of troops into the northern Gaza Strip.

Four Kassam rockets were fired around 8 a.m. Wednesday from northern Gaza. They landed in open areas in the western Negev, causing no damage.