Hisham Abu Taha
Arab News
June 13, 2008 - 5:04pm

GAZA CITY, 13 June 2008 — Palestinian gunmen bombarded southern Israel yesterday after a Hamas commander’s house in northern Gaza was blown up in a blast that killed seven people, including a four-month-old baby.

The attacks started immediately after the explosion which Palestinian medics said wounded 51 people, among them women and children, in and around the two-story building.

The Israeli military said nearly 50 rockets and mortar rounds were fired from the Gaza Strip following the explosion, which Hamas blamed on the Jewish state.

“Only yesterday, Israel decided to give a chance to the Egyptian initiative which could have brought calm to the south,” the Israeli prime minister’s spokesman Mark Regev said yesterday. “The barrage of rockets shows that Hamas has no interest in calm and is committed to violence, terror and murder.”

However at Wednesday’s meeting, the Israeli security Cabinet also ordered the military to make necessary preparations for a major ground offensive against Gaza if the Egyptian-brokered truce talks fail to bear fruit

Witnesses and Hamas said yesterday’s blast that leveled a house in Beit Lahiya was caused by an Israeli airstrike, but the army denied any involvement, saying it could have been an accidental explosion.

“It was not related to the army. There were no army operations. It was an internal explosion,” an Israeli military spokeswoman said in Tel Aviv.

But Palestinian witnesses said that an Israeli F16 aircraft dropped a bomb at a house in northern Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, two Gaza gunmen were killed by Israeli forces earlier yesterday in operations before the house blast and a clash after the explosion, Palestinian emergency services said.

One Hamas member, who fired at Israel, was killed in an airstrike near Khan Younis and another died in a fire fight with Israeli troops in the Beit Lahiya area, they said.

— With input from agencies


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