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Israeli troops thwart attack following Gaza strikes

JTA

March 22, 2011 | 10:16 am

Israeli troops thwarted Gaza Palestinians preparing to launch an anti-tank missile at an Israeli force operating in the northern Gaza Strip.

The Israel Defense Forces in a statement said its soldiers hit their target in Tuesday’s operation.

Also Tuesday, a Kassam rocket was fired from Gaza into southern Israel.

Israeli combat planes late Monday night pounded the Gaza Strip in retaliation for a weekend mortar attack, the worst barrage of rocket attacks on southern Israel in two years. More than 50 mortar shells struck the area on Saturday morning. On Monday, a long-range Grad-style rocket was fired from Gaza at southern Israel.

The Israelis’ attack targeted two terror tunnels, two weapons manufacturing and storage facilities and two additional terror activity sites across the Gaza Strip, according to the IDF. Direct hits were confirmed, the IDF statement said.

Israel Radio said there were reports from Palestinian sources of 17 wounded.

Israel had responded earlier Monday to Saturday’s barrage with airstrikes on suspected bomb smuggling tunnels. The latest attack seemed more comprehensive and sustained, according to Israel Radio.

The armed wing of Hamas, Izzadin Kassam Brigades, had claimed responsibility for most of the explosives sent Saturday from Gaza.

Before Israel’s attack Monday night, a spokesman for Hamas, the terrorist group that controls Gaza, had indicated that the group was ready to return to a fragile truce.

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