29/07/2004 The cause of the explosion was not immediately clear, though Palestinian sources said they missiles hit the car. Some witnesses said that and Israel Air Force helicopter fired missiles at the car, while others say the missiles were fired by a drone. The car reportedly exploded as it was nearing the entrance of the Gaza town of Rafah, not far from the Egyptian border, the Palestinian sources said. Residents said the two men killed in the air strike were militants wanted by Israel. The Israel Defense Forces was checking the reports. Earlier Thursday, two Qassam rockets landed in the southern town of Sderot. Magen David Adom paramedics treated nine residents for shock. One of the rockets landed in a residential neighborhood, causing light damage to several houses. The second rocket landed on a gravel road near the town’s public library, causing no damage. In the West Bank, IDF troops killed a Palestinian militant early Thursday near the town of Tul Karm, Army Radio reported.
Israeli military sources said gunmen had opened fire on the soldiers as they mounted an arrest raid in the village of El Ar and in the ensuing battle troops shot one of the gunmen. Israel Radio reported that the man was identified as Zair al-Ashkar, 26, the commander of the military wing of Islamic Jihad in the area. The IDF late Wednesday night destroyed the Beit Lakia home, west of Ramallah, of a Hamas militant who helped organize the September 9, 2003 suicide bomb attack on Cafe Hillel in Jerusalem, in which nine people were killed. Also in the West Bank, nine wanted Palestinians were arrested in IDF operations overnight Wednesday. In Gaza, Israeli military sources said two Palestinians died near the Jewish settlement of Netzer Hazani when an explosive device or belt in their possession apparently went off prematurely. Palestinian sources, however, said that the two, Yusuf Abada and Mohammed Adwan, were killed when an IDF tank fired at them. IDF troops entered the Rafah refugee camp in Gaza early Thursday, residents said, and bulldozers destroyed at least 18 abandoned buildings. Sources in the IDF said an operation was underway to search for arms smuggling tunnels. In the course of the operation, soldiers were destroying empty structures used by militants as cover for attacks on Israeli forces, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Such raids in the Rafah camp are frequent. According to the IDF, forces have discovered and destroyed dozens of tunnels under the border. Many of them originate inside buildings in the refugee camp. Residents said some people were fleeing their houses, but there were no reports of clashes or casualties.