Sunday, April 20, 2008

Details of Hamas Attack at Kerem Shalom

GAZA CITY -- Palestinian militants besieged a crucial Israel-Gaza border crossing Saturday, wounding 16 Israeli soldiers in a barrage of mortar fire and car bombs.

Three Palestinian gunmen died in the attack on the Kerem Shalom crossing, which followed a string of smaller militant raids on the other entry points through which vital humanitarian supplies and fuel pass to Gaza.

Hamas' military wing, the Izzidin al-Qassam Brigade, claimed responsibility for the raid. A senior Israeli army commander called it the largest militant operation since Israeli troops and settlers withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005.

"It was an attempt to abduct and kill as many soldiers as possible," Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant, who heads the army's southern command, told reporters during a visit to Kerem Shalom (continues here).

Details of Hamas operation at Kerem Shalom

On Sunday, a senior Israeli army officer posted at a Gaza border crossing targeted by Hamas suicide bombers the day before provided new details about the attack. Hamas militants had driven an armored vehicle and two jeeps, made to look like Israeli military vehicles, toward the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Gaza under the cover of heavy morning fog Saturday. The armored vehicle broke through the crossing fence, followed by the two jeeps, each packed with about 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of explosives, said the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, in line with military briefing regulations. The first jeep exploded at an army watchtower.

The officer said he and his men came to investigate when he noticed a second jeep about six meters (yards) away. The officer said the jeep aroused his suspicion. He said he yelled "car bomb, car bomb" and ordered his men back into their armored vehicles. When the second jeep went off, most soldiers had managed to get back into their vehicles, he said. At one point, the driver of the Palestinian armored vehicle emerged. "He went toward the forces that had been wounded, and he was shot dead," said the officer. Thirteen Israeli soldiers were wounded. The officer said three Hamas militants were killed _ two in the jeep explosions and one in the shooting. This would confirm Hamas' account that three of its members had been killed in the attack. On Saturday, the Israeli military had said four Hamas militants were killed. (TimesofIndia)


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