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The Battles in Gaza

Arutz Sheva January 26, 2003

The war is being fought this weekend in Gaza and the western Negev. In the IDF’s Operation Hot Iron, armed forces, engineering corps, and infantry, accompanied by helicopters, entered Gaza City last night in what some officials called the “strongest and deepest operation there” since the Palestinian Authority Arabs began the Oslo War in Sep. 2000.

“We sought them out where they are manufacturing and firing the Kassam rockets,” Brig.-Gen. Gadi Shamni, Commander of the IDF’s Gaza Division said today. “We are delivering the clear message that there is no refuge for terrorists, and we will find them wherever they are.” Defense Minister Sha’ul Mofaz said that the government is considering taking over the entire Gaza Strip – and he said that Hevron’s terror infrastructures are next.

The IDF forces in Gaza raided and destroyed some 14 factories for the manufacture of mortar shells and Kassam rockets, as well as over 100 lathes. The mission took place under heavy enemy fire, and 12 Arabs – mostly terrorists – were killed in the battle. There were no Israeli casualties. This was the third IDF offensive in Gaza this weekend. Arutz-7’s Kobi Finkler reports that on Friday night, the army blew up four bridges around Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza. “The Kassam rockets fired at Sderot come from these areas,” he said, “and they must be transported by vehicle, as each launcher weighs something like 100 kilograms. Blowing up the bridges, and other actions in Beit Hanoun and Zeitun, will help prevent this.”

IDF officials say that in any event, the mission is far from completed. Proof of this was provided shortly after the forces left Gaza this morning, when yet another Kassam rocket was fired at the Negev city of Sderot; it fell harmlessly in an open area. Later in the day, four more Kassams were fired, hitting areas near Sderot and Kfar Maimon without incident. A total of seven rockets have been fired at the Negev from Gaza since Friday.

In other attempted murder attacks in the area today, two mortar shells fired towards N’vei Dekalim landed in Arab-populated areas nearby… A soldier was very lightly wounded this morning when an Arab sniper in Khan Yunis fired towards IDF headquarters in Gaza… Earlier, shots were fired at an Israeli car near Morag and at an IDF patrol near the Israeli-Egyptian border. No one was hurt.

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