IDF 4 troops killed in Gaza attack
Israel Government Link: IDF soldier killed in Hebron; 4 troops killed in Gaza attack - An Israel Defense Forces soldier was killed Sunday afternoon in a shooting attack close to the Tomb of the Patriarchs, in the West Bank city of Hebron.
The two gunmen arrived at around 1 P.M. at the entrance for Muslim worshippers at the Tomb of the Patriarchs, pushing a cart with Kalashnikov rifles hidden in it, and started firing at a group of Border Policemen, wounding one of them.
The IDF imposed a closure on the casbah and while troops were searching for the men on a rooftop, the gunmen hiding in the roof fired at them and critically wounded one of the soldiers. He later died of his wounds. The two gunmen were killed in the incident.
No group has claimed responsibility for the incidents, though the gunmen have been identified as Walid Abido, 20, and Udin Alfahuri, 22.
The Hebron attacks comes hours after four IDF soldiers were killed by Palestinian gunmen in the northern Gaza Strip.
Early Sunday morning, four IDF soldiers were killed when Palestinian gunmen opened fire near the Erez checkpoint in the northern Gaza Strip. Israel Defense Forces troops responded with gunfire, killing the gunmen.
Three of the dead were reservists, while the other was a permanent force member.
The four soldiers were later identified as Sergeant Major Boaz Emet, 23 from Beit She'an; Sergeant Major (res.) Udi Ayelet, 38, from Eilat; Sergeant Major (res.) Assaf Abergil, 23, from Eilat; and Sergeant Major (res.) Chen Angel, 31, from Ramat Gan.
The funeral for Emet took place at 6:30 P.M. in the Beit She'an military cemetery. Aberjel was laid to rest at 10 P.M. in Eilat; Angel will be buried in Nes Ziona at 11:30 A.M. on Monday. Ayelet will be buried in Eilat at 5 P.M. on Monday.
Four other reservists were wounded in the attack - one with moderate injuries and three others with light wounds.
The attack in the heart of the Erez industrial zone began around 5:30 A.M. The gunmen, wearing IDF uniforms, slipped into a line of Palestinian laborers waiting to enter Israel, then jumped over a fence and advanced toward the army post.
They shot dead the permanent force soldier as he was working on a tank, then killed the two reservists guarding the main entrance. They continued to fire at the outpost, killing another soldier and wounding four others. The attack ended after about 20 minutes when the gunmen were shot dead by IDF troops.
In a rare move, three militant Palestinian groups - Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades - issued a joint statement claiming responsibility for the Gaza attack. A leaflet gave the names of the gunmen, all in their early 20s, one from each group.
"This joint operation was committed to confirm our people's united choice of holy war and resistance until the end of occupation over our land and holy places," the leaflet said.
It also said that the gunmen left from the Gaza Strip city of Beit Hanoun, which is currently under IDF control. Israeli security sources said the gunmen were wearing IDF uniforms.
The shooting was the first such attack since U.S. President George W. Bush met Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas last Wednesday in Aqaba to push forward the road map peace plan.
The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades is linked to the ruling Fatah movement, and its involvement in the shooting was a direct challenge to Abbas, a senior Fatah member, who has been trying to persuade militants to halt attacks on Israelis.
Major General Doron Almog, head of the army's southern command, told Israel Radio that the attackers arrived by surprise at the northern edge of the post, killed three soldiers at close range and a fourth soldier inside the base.
Israel demanded Abbas immediately begin arresting militants, dismantling their organizations anddisarming Palestinians. "If terrorism will continue, it will destroy the road map, it will destroy the peace process," Israeli government spokesman Avi Pazner said.
Israel had provoked the attacks by continuing restrictions on Palestinians and killing two Hamas militants Thursday night near the West Bank city of Tul Karm, Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Sha'ath said.
"This requires an immediate discussion with
the Palestinian factions to bring an end to the
fighting and there is an effort from all sides to make sure that this happens," Sha'ath said.
Ra'anan Gissin, a senior aide to Sharon, told CNN that the attack showed that "again the response we get from the Palestinian side is confrontation," after Israel agreed to take steps to implement the U.S.-led road map peace plan.
Israel has no choice but to take
action against terror groups if the Palestinian Authority
fails to do so itself, he added.
Deputy Defense Minister Ze'ev Boim (Likud) told Israel Radio the attacks proved the militant groups "are not ready to accept this [peace] process."
In response to the attack, Transportation Minister Avigdor Lieberman ordered the Karni and Rafah crossings in the Gaza Strip closed.
night, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz decided to renew the
full closure on the West Bank in light of terror warnings
and the Hamas decision to end ceasefire talks.