Five IDF soldiers killed in Rafah attack

13/05/2004 07:32 Five Israel Defense Forces troops, including an officer, were killed in Gaza after the armored personnel carrier (APC) in which they were travelling was attacked. The five were identified as First Lieutenant Avi Hakani, 23, of Ashdod, Sergeant Lior Vishinski, 20, of Ramat Gan, Sergeant Za’ur Smeilev, 20, of Ofakim, Sergeant Major Aiman Gadir, 24, of Bir Makhsur and Corporal Elad Cohen, 20, of Jerusalem. The families of the soldiers who were killed have been notified. The APC was hit at approximately 6 P.M. as it was performing operations aimed at uncovering weapons smuggling tunnels on the Philadelphi Route near the Israeli-Egyptian border. A member of an undisclosed Islamic group told the French news agency that his group is holding the remains of one of the Israeli soldiers, Israel Radio reported. Three soldiers were lightly injured in the incident. An IAF helicopter early on Thursday fired two missiles that struck a crowd of people in south Gaza refugee camp, killing at least seven Palestinians, witnesses said. Camp residents said the Israeli helicopter fired the missile at a group of Palestinians, including gunmen, and at least four of the dead were militants. The military said the target was a group of militants planting bombs and firing at soldiers searching the scene of the explosion that smashed the armored vehicle next to the camp on the Gaza-Egypt border road. There were reports of an additional IAF helicopter attack on a crowd of Palestinian militants in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday morning. Several of the militants were injured in the attack. The APC was apparently hit by an anti-tank rocket or by a bomb, that caused explosives it was carrying to explode.

Emergency forces evacuated the wounded to Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva. Palestinian sources reported that 10 bystanders were injured as a result of the blast, the force of which sprayed parts of the APC over a wide area. Some of the debris even landed in Egyptian territory across the border. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack. Israeli F-16 fighter jets and helicopters were patrolling the area immediately after the attack, as large IDF forces were moving into the area of the blast. The attack came 36 hours after six Israeli soldiers were killed when a bomb ripped apart the armored personnel carried in which they were travelling through the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City. BPI.