Monday, April 23, 2007

Israel preparing for military offensive in Gaza

author Monday April 23, 2007 12:01author by Wissam Afifah - IMEMC News - translated by Ghassan Bannouraauthor email ghassanb at imemc dot org Report this post to the editors

In a sign of what seems to be a possible Israeli military campaign against the Gaza Strip, Israeli war planes dropped warning leaflets on Monday at dawn in the northern areas of the Gaza Strip, eyewitnesses reported.

The leaflets threatened that if Palestinian resistance groups continued to fire home made Qassam shells at nearby Israeli settlements and towns, the army will invade the Gaza Strip. Witnesses said they saw Israeli army helicopters drop these leaflets.

The Aqsa martyrs brigades, of Fatah, and Al Quds brigades of the Islamic Jihad announced on Monday that they fired several home made shells at the northern Israeli town of Sederot and Ashkelon areas within the Green Line in addition to the shelling of the Israeli army post of Nahal Oz located to the east of Gaza City, in response to the latest Israeli escalation of attacks. The resistance groups renewed their commitment to continue resisting the Israeli army and occupation.

The Islamic Jihad movement reported that the shells its fighters fired have caused the injury of six Israeli soldiers. The Israeli army did not confirmed the number injured. This attack comes after the Israeli army killed nine Palestinians – eight in the West Bank and one in the Gaza strip- in less than 24 hours over the weekend.

The Palestinian factions vowed to respond to "the massacre"- as called by the Palestinian resistance factions. This comes amidst of serious talk of a prisoners swap deal involving the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, imprisoned by Palestinian factions in Gaza, in return for the release of Palestinian prisoners through Egyptian mediation.

Israeli war planes carried out an attack on Gaza after Palestinian resistance group fired a home made shell at the Israeli city of Ashkelon which left two slightly injured. So far the number of Palestinians killed since the beginning of the second Intifida- uprising- that started in September 2000, has mounted up to 5669.

The Israeli army ended on the seventh of April the self-restraint policy which it had applied since the declaration of a truce in November 2006 when fighter jets targeted a Palestinian car in Gaza city which belongs to resistance men, killing one and injuring the other.

The latest air strike was implemented based on instructions from the Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz, who ordered the army "to respond hard" to the firing of Palestinian home made shells and attempts to plant bombs along the border line of the Gaza Strip. This step comes in the wake of the recommendation of the southern region commander of the Israeli army to launch a military operation against the Gaza Strip under the pretext that there are serious threats to Israel due to the growing level of armaments of Palestinian factions.

The residents of Beit Hanoun, a border town in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, are feared to be the first victims of any possible Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip. This comes in light of the tense situation in the border areas, and increasing movements of Israeli army tanks and strengthening Israeli presence to east and north of the town.

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