Palestinians: IDF kills Gazan laying bomb at border

Israel Defense Forces soldiers killed a Palestinian gunman attempting to bomb a military patrol on the Gaza-Israel border late on Saturday, a Palestinian militant group said. The gunman, from the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) militant faction, was killed as he lay mines along a road patrolled by the Israeli military near the Erez Crossing in the northern Gaza Strip, a spokesman for the group said. One of the bombs was detonated before the militant was killed by Israeli gun and tank fire, the spokesman added. The IDF said soldiers saw a suspected militant crawl to within 100 metres of the Gaza border fence. „The troops saw that he was dealing with various wires and suspecting that he was planting a bomb, they opened fire at him and identified a hit,” an army spokeswoman said. Israel has said it would respond forcefully against any cross-border attacks by Gaza militants. The Israeli military killed three members of the PRC along with another militant in an air strike on a car in Gaza on Wednesday. Earlier Saturday evening, a Palestinian militant was killed in what Palestinians security sources and witnesses said was an Israel Air Forces strike on a car in the southern Gaza Strip. However, Israel Defense Forces sources denied involvement in the attack. Khaled Abu Sitta, 25, a senior leader from the Fatah breakaway group Abu el-Reesh Brigades, was killed when a missile hit the car that he was driving near the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, Palestinian security sources said. The missile tore through the vehicle, turning it into a pile of scorched and twisted metal. Angry crowds pulled Sitta’s body out of the rubble and took him to a local morgue where he was identified. The Abu el-Reesh Brigades, an armed group in the main Fatah faction, has been involved in firing rockets into Israel. Abu Sitta and other militants were on their way back from launching rockets at Israel when the explosion happened, Palestinian security officials said. Despite the IDF denial, Abu Reesh threatened to take revenge on Israel. Also on Saturday, Israel Defense Forces soldiers shot and wounded a wanted Palestinian militant in the West Bank town of Tul Karm. Palestinian security officials said the man was a senior Islamic Jihad official in the Tul Karm area named Zuhair Fuqaa who has also worked with Palestinian security. The IDF troops were carrying out an arrest operation in Tul Karm when they spotted the Islamic Jihad member and called on him to stop, the army said. When the suspect started running and did not respond to calls by soldiers to stop, soldiers shot at him, wounding him in the arm, the army and Palestinian witnesses said. The suspect was evacuated to a hospital in Israel, the army said. His condition was not immediately known. The IDF has increased its West Bank raids to arrest Islamic Jihad members since the militant group carried out a December 6 suicide bombing that killed five Israelis. Israel shells Gaza, imposes closure in wake of rocket fire The Israel Air Force shelled Gaza Strip targets Friday in response to recent rocket fire from the Strip. Before dawn, IAF planes shelled 13 ground targets in the Gaza Strip that were used either as launching sites for Qassam rockets or paths leading to the sites. Nonetheless, three Qassam rocket landed in the western Negev on Friday afteroon and evening, two near the town of Sderot and the other near Mefalsim. No casualties or damage was caused by either rocket. IAF planes also produced sonic booms when they broke the sound barrier over the Strip, Israel Radio reported. An IDF source said the flights were intended to block the firing of Qassam rockets from Gaza. The Israel Defense Forces also imposed a closure on the Gaza Strip and the West Bank on Friday in response to the recent barrage of Qassam rockets fired from Gaza. The closure does not affect the Karni crossing.