Saturday in Gaza: Two IDF Soldiers Killed Fighting Rocket Launch Crews, 54 Palestinians Killed

[New York Times] Steven Erlanger and Taghreed El-Khodary - Two Israeli soldiers were killed and seven wounded in Gaza on Saturday. Six Israelis were wounded when Ashkelon came under fire again from seven Katyusha-style rockets smuggled in from Iran. At least 54 Palestinians were killed and more than 100 wounded in the deadliest day of fighting in more than a year. Half the dead were Hamas gunmen or those of Islamic Jihad. Israeli troops concentrated on a hilly area near Jabaliya, within two miles of the Gaza border, where many of the rockets are launched from among the civilian population. An Israeli spokesman, David Baker, said that Israel was conducting "defensive measures" to protect its civilians from rocket fire against its cities. "We have over 200,000 Israelis in range of Palestinian rockets. We cannot allow this to go on. These rocket attacks on Israelis are sheer terror, designed to kill or maim as many Israelis as possible." Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said the military was engaged in "an enlarged operation and not a major ground operation." On Friday, Hussein Dardouna, 50, was burying his son, Omar, 14, killed by an Israeli strike aimed at a rocket-launching team. "I'm against these rockets, but I am afraid. What can I do? If I protest they will hit me, they will kill me," he said. Hamas said that Malak Karfaneh, 6, died Friday from an Israeli strike on Beit Hanun, but locals said that a Palestinian rocket had fallen short and landed near the house. Israeli officials say that up to half of Palestinian rockets fall inside Gaza.

2008-03-03 01:00:00

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