Gaza Strip: Israel kills seven Palestinians, including two Islamic Jihad activists
Seven Palestinians, including two members of the Islamic Jihad armed wing, were killed and six others were wounded when an Israeli helicopter late on Thursday targeted a car with several missiles in the northern Gaza Strip. The two Islamic Jihad members who died in this attack were identified as Shadi Mhana, a senior military activist and Muhned A Zarayneh. The other five victims were innocent civilians.
Minutes after the attack, Khader Habib, an Islamic Jihad spokesman in Gaza Strip, confirmed that Shadi Mhana was assassinated by Israeli Air Force, pledging retaliation.
The attack came hours after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced a "broad and nonstop offensive against terrorism," in response to Wednesday's suicide bombing in Hadera that killed five people.
Early Thursday Israel launched a series of responses to the suicide bombing in. The initial retaliation included firing missiles at targets in Gaza Strip. According to Haaretz, the first assaults, in northern Gaza Strip, hit a road and an open field, causing no casualties. A short time later, the Israel struck in southern Gaza Strip.
These air raids came after the Israeli cabinet on Wednesday night approved a major military operation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip following the islamic Jihad attack.
One of the victims in Hadera blast was an Israeli Arab citizen.
The military operation, which was approved by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, is to take place on two fronts: northern Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank. The operation's main target will be Islamic Jihad.
The occupation army will impose a general curfew on the West Bank and all crossings into Palestinian-controlled areas will be closed. In addition, the northern West Bank will be cut off from the rest of the West Bank, and no Palestinian privately-owned vehicles will be allowed to travel in that area.
The operation in the northern West Bank will include the cities of Jenin and Tulkarem and large villages such as the bomber's home town of Qabatiyeh, Ya'abed, Atil, Saida and Ilar. The Israeli army will also impose a closure on the villages.
It should be mentioned that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned on Wednesday the suicide attack. Abbas stated that such operations harm the Palestinian people's interests and could widen the cycle of violence and bloodshed. He said that the latest missile launching from Gaza Strip to Israel and this suicide operation are considered a severe breach to the truce agreement reached in Cairo.
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