Israeli troops kill 9 in Gaza

Friday, January 4, 2008

At least nine Palestinians have been killed during Israeli missions in Gaza; four gunmen and five civilians during air and ground raids.

Israeli troops moved in to the Khan Younis area early Thursday where clashes with militants took up the majority of the fighting. The deadliest attack by a tank shell reportedly killed five family members. Medics later announced that two more Palestinians were killed when Israeli troops called in an air strike after being trapped in one area. Later tank fire injured three children, leaving one in critical condition.

Israel launched the offensive after a Katyusha rocket fired from the Gaza Strip penetrated 17 km (10 mi) into Israeli territory and landed in the city of Ashkelon where no one was injured. Israel however, fears that the rocket's potential range of 19 miles can put up to 250,000 Israeli's as targets. David Baker, Israeli spokesperson, said "the Palestinians have attacked a major Israeli city ... and thus have upped the ante. Israel will not allow any cities to be attacked by Palestinian rocket fire."

Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees both claimed responsibility for the attack and released a joint statement stating "we are going to launch more strikes in the depth of the entity," referring to Israel.

The fighting comes just a week before United States President George W. Bush arrives in the region to discuss Israeli-Palestinian relations. Nabil Abu Rdeneh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that Israel's offensive was no coincidence.

"We consider what's going on in Gaza ... as a bloody Israeli message in which Israel shirks itself of any commitment before the arrival of President Bush to the region."

Troops also stormed the city of Nablus in the West Bank where at least nineteen people have been injured.

The attacks follow previous operations in Gaza on Wednesday which killed at least six.