May 20, 2008 - 4:00pm

Palestinian sources in Gaza reported Tuesday afternoon that two Palestinians were killed and five others were wounded by IDF artillery fire at a Gaza City neighborhood, raising the death toll in a series of IDF strikes to four.

Earlier Tuesday, residents of the western Negev awoke on Tuesday to the sounds of rockets crashing into their towns. The Color Red sirens blared in the early morning hours as two Qassams launched from northern Gaza made their way across the border – landing in Sderot and an open area just outside the city. No injuries were reported and no damage was caused.

A short hour later the IDF struck the cell of rocket launchers near Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza. Palestinian officials said a 13-year-old youth was killed and two others were wounded in the strike. The youths had apparently been standing near the cell when the strike occurred. One of those wounded is said to be critical condition.

A Palestinian farmer was also reported killed in central Gaza in a separate IDF strike against a group of gunmen near Juhar al-Diq. The man, in his 30s, was struck in the head by shrapnel from an Israeli missile and later died of his wounds. Witnesses reported that Palestinians had staged mortar shell attacks from the farmer's lands a short while prior to the IDF response.

Meanwhile, Palestinians also report an IDF ground force was advancing into the Strip.

However, say Gaza sources, the recent bout of violence is unlikely to affect Egyptian mediation efforts to 

secure a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian factions. Much depends on the answer Hamas is expected to give Egyptian Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman in response to Israel's stance.

Hamas officials believe that the answer will pertain to the matter of the actual ceasefire and will not touch on the matter of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.



American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017