Sunday, June 25, 2006

Hamass Proudly Commits itself to Full open Warfare with Israel

IDF preparing Gaza ground attack
Secret diplomatic efforts were underway on Sunday night in order to secure the release of the kidnapped IDF soldier, cpl. Gilad Shalit.
PM Olmert said in the cabinet meeting on Sunday that Israel was not going to negotiate for the release of the IDF soldier, and was not going to exchange Palestinian prisoners for the soldier.
Despite an intelligence warning of an imminent attack in the area, the IDF was caught off guard early Sunday morning when Palestinian gunmen, among them Hamas operatives, tunneled across the border from the southern Gaza Strip and assaulted a military post near the Kerem Shalom crossing. Two soldiers were killed and a third was captured in the attack.
"We intend to respond to this morning's incident in a way in which all involved... understand that the price will be painful," Defense Minister Amir Peretz announced at a news conference in Tel Aviv.
Shalit is the first soldier to be seized by Palestinian gunmen since Cpl. Nachshon Wachsman, a 19-year-old Israeli-American, was abducted 12 years ago. Wachsman was killed, along with three of his captors, when commandos stormed the house where he was held in an attempt to free him; one of the commandos was also killed.
Ground troops, backed by tanks and Apache helicopters, moved nearly a kilometer into Gaza when it became apparent that Shalit was missing, IDF officers said. Soldiers uncovered the tunnel's entrance, which was some 500 meters from the security fence. A senior Southern Command officer said this initial incursion was limited to a search of the area.

Halutz said Hamas was involved "from head to foot, literally" in the attack.
Hamas' military wing, which renounced a shaky 16-month-old truce on June 9 and openly resumed firing Kassam rockets, confirmed its participation. The Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) and a previously unknown group, the Islamic Army, said they also took part.
"This operation is a natural response to the Israeli crimes of killing women and children and the assassination of two leaders," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.
"Our fighters infiltrated the Israeli military location near so-called Kerem Shalom," said PRC spokesman Abu Mujahid. "They succeeded in blowing up several Israeli vehicles and clashed with Israeli soldiers. The battle is still going on. The number of fighters is bigger than ever. We have some martyrs who fell during the battle."
"It was a very complicated and well-studied operation. The details are going to shock the Zionists. There are many surprises that are going to be announced about the planning and the process and the battle itself," he said.
Kochavi said the highly coordinated attack began at approximately 5:30 a.m. when seven or eight gunmen wearing olive green fatigues emerged from a tunnel into an IDF position between Kerem Shalom and the Sufa crossing. The tunnel's exit was 300 meters from the security fence and actually opened up behind a tank, a decoy armored personnel carrier and a fortified guard tower.
Upon exiting the tunnel, the group broke into three smaller units. One attacked the decoy carrier, destroying it. A second group of two gunmen attempted to storm the guard tower, igniting a fierce exchange with the four soldiers manning it. Kochavi said one of the gunmen was killed on the steps leading up to the tower and the other as he attempted to flee.
The third group attacked the tank from behind, throwing grenades and firing a rocket-propelled grenade. Barak and Slutsker were killed and the driver was seriously wounded. At this point, the gunmen captured Shalit and dragged him into Gaza.

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