Gaza City, Gaza Strip “” Militants took control of a Gaza neighbourhood Friday after a shootout with Palestinian troops left two teenagers dead, and Israeli airstrikes killed five militants in a flare-up of violence that threatened an already tattered truce.
Palestinian security forces, under pressure to stop attacks against Israel, went on high alert. Israeli troops massed at two makeshift camps outside the volatile coastal strip.
After militants launched at least 53 rockets and mortars against Israeli targets between Thursday afternoon and Friday afternoon, Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz summoned top generals to a meeting to decide on a response.
The violence follows five months of relative calm following a February truce accord between Israel and the Palestinians.
The Gaza clashes erupted after Palestinian security forces raided a neighbourhood, searching for militants suspected of firing rockets. Militants later torched a police station and set a police armoured personnel carrier and three jeeps afire…
Israel and the United States have called on Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to crack down on the militants, who killed six Israelis this week — five in a terror bombing in Netanya and one in a rocket attack near Gaza.
The tough Palestinian police action in Gaza on Friday suggested a possible shift in policy for Mr. Abbas, who has been reluctant in the past to confront the militants. Palestinian security chief Nasser Yousef said Friday that his forces will “not hesitate” to restore law and order, and he ordered rocket attacks to be stopped by all means.
But the Israeli attacks, which could mean the resumption of Israel’s policy of assassinating Hamas leaders, appeared to signal that Israel has run out of patience with Mr. Abbas.
In firing rockets and mortars, Hamas also was underscoring demands to share power in Gaza after Israel’s planned withdrawal from Gaza and the West Bank next month…
Hamas threatens revenge for death of five members killed by Israeli air strikes. An update from the Lebanese Daily Star, “Sharon orders ‘unlimited’ response to terrorism”
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has ordered the occupation army to take “all necessary measures” against Palestinian “terrorist organizations” after five Hamas militants were killed in two Israeli air strikes. Just hours earlier, Palestinian security personnel had battled Hamas militants in Gaza City in a bid to stop spiraling violence from unraveling the seven-month informal truce, killing two teenage bystanders in the process.
In an interview on a privately-owned Israeli television station Sharon said: “We will take all steps against Islamic Jihad without any limitations. The response to terror acts will be strong and harsh.”
Asked about a resumption of targeted killings against militants or leaders of Palestinian factions, Sharon said there was “no limit” on the orders handed down to the army.
Hamas threatened revenge against Israel for the air strikes, saying the attacks had opened the “gates to hell” and that the group was reconsidering a seven-month-old informal truce…